Speed skating is a sport in which competitors try to advance a predetermined distance as quickly as possible on an oval-shaped skating rink.
Speed skating is one of the oldest winter Olympic sports. The International Skating Union (ISU) was founded as early as 1892, and the sport's world championship has been contested since 1893. Since the beginning, the competition distances have been 500, 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
In the World Championships, only the overall championship of all distances was competed for, while at the Olympics, medals were awarded for each distance separately. In the 1990s, individual trips also started to organize their own World Cup competitions. In the EC competitions, the goal is still only the overall championship. Only in the first Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix was the winner of the overall competition awarded, at that time Finland's Clas Thunberg. In 1976, a distance of 1,000 meters was added to the Olympic program. Together with Norway, Finland was the powerhouse of speed skating in the early days until the 1950s.
The women's series was included in the World Cup competitions for the first time in 1933, and in the Olympics in 1960 in Squaw Valley. In 1976, the men's 1,000 meters were added to the Olympic program in Innsbruck, and in 1988, the women's 5,000 meters were added to the Olympic program in Calgary.
In the past, skaters were not very heavily specialized for certain distances, and for example, at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, Eric Heiden of the United States won all five men's gold medals. Nowadays, skaters are specialized in longer or shorter competition distances, and World Championships for individual competitions have started to be organized. In the same way, the World Cup is competed on a trip-by-trip basis.
In 1986, an indoor track was completed in Heerenveen, the motherland and powerhouse of speed skating in the Netherlands, and in 1988, Calgary already competed in the Olympics on an indoor track. Back in 1992, Albertville skated on outdoor ice, for now the last time in the history of the Olympics.
After the transition to indoor tracks, the second revolution took place in the winter of 1997/1998, when the so-called klap skates, where the skate is attached a bit like a ski binding to the blade only in its front part. Above all, the Klap skate enables the power of the thighs to be transferred to the ice more efficiently. This resulted in a phase of tremendous results development and, for example, in the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, many world records were set in a new faith. Lap times improved by about a second.
Technical development has also taken place in skaters' outfits, whose aerodynamic properties have been improved by developing materials, among other things.
The 2006 Turin Olympics featured a team pursuit competition adapted from track cycling for the first time.
Adults skate in value competitions on a 400-meter track. The skating rink has two lanes with a width of at least four meters. The competitions are contested as a double start, where there are two skaters on the tracks at a time, and they change tracks one after the other during each round in the 70-meter changing area located on the back straight.
In the overall or all-around competition, the skating distance is covered from the shortest to the longest, so that the average times of 500 meters of each distance are added together. The competitions are held in two or three days.
In the sprint distances (500 and 1,000 meters), each distance is skated twice in two-day combined points competitions according to the aforementioned scoring system.
Speed skating competitions
World Figure Skating Championships (men and women)
Distance speed skating world championships
Speed Skating Sprint World Championships
European Figure Skating Championships (all-around)
Winter Olympics (distance-specific competitions)
Speed Skating World Cup
Situation as of March 12, 2019
Noble calendar of speed skating