The Singapore Ice Skating Association (Sisa) will host the inaugural Tri-Series South East Asia Cup next weekend with a view to the debut of winter sports at next year's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The first leg of the three-stop series will be held at The Rink in JCube on Feb 20 and 21. It will be the first International Skating Union (ISU)-sanctioned competition held in the Republic since the 2013 World Development Trophy.
A total of 65 participants from Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines will compete in seven age-group categories with events from 222m up to 1,500m as well as team relays.
The series will allow Sisa to benchmark its athletes against others in the region and provide a platform for the association to nominate skaters to the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) for the 2017 SEA Games.
The SNOC normally sets the third-place result at the last SEA Games as the qualifying benchmark for the subsequent Games.
Last June, the SEA Games Federation announced that ice skating and ice hockey would be added to the list of Category 2 sports. The Olympic Council of Malaysia then revealed that both sports are pencilled in for the 2017 Games.
Said Sisa president Sonja Chong: "The Tri-Series will set the pace for SEA Games 2017.
"Our athletes have been training very hard, and will be pitting themselves against skaters from our South-east Asian neighbours.
"This will certainly provide very good exposure for our young skaters, and allow our more experienced skaters to set higher performance benchmarks for themselves."
The second stage will be in Auckland on March 19-20 with the final leg in Melbourne on April 23-24.
Leading the hosts' 23-man squad is national skater Lucas Ng, 27, who will compete in the 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m individual events.
He bagged three bronze medals at last December's Asian Open Short Track Speed Skating Trophy in Manila. He will also feature at next month's World Championships in South Korea.
He said: "I'll do my best to achieve good results and hope that... we will be able to build more awareness for this sport in our region."