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Speed skating

Speed skating is a form of ice skating in which the competitors attempt to travel a certain distance over the ice as quickly as possible. Related sports are short track speed skating and inline speed skating.

Table of contents


  • origins in a.o. Netherlands
  • founding of ISU (IEV)
  • development of the competitions

Speed skating is a Winter Olympic Games medal sport. The sport was revolutionized in the 1990s with the introduction of clap skates, allowing competitors to reach speeds of nearly 40 miles per hour.


Speed skating is currently conducted on ovals with artificial ice. The length of the track for the major competitions is 400 m, but tracks of 333 m or 200 m are also in use. All races are held in pairs, for which two lanes on the track are used. At the back straight, the skaters switch lanes which causes them both to cover the same distance per lap.


Competition Format

Single distances

The most basic form of speed skating consists of skating a single event. This is the format used for the World Single Distance Championships and the World Cup. Usual distance include the 500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m, 3000 m (women only), 5000 m and 10000 m (men only), but several other distances are sometimes skated. For championships, the 500 m and the 1000 m are currently conducted in two runs, with the final ranking based on accumulated times.


One of the oldest skating formats is the allround event. Skaters skate four distances and a ranking is made up based on the times skated on all of these distances. Basically, any combination of four events is possible, but the following combinations are commonly used:

  • Sprint: 500 m, 1000 m, 500 m, 1000 m - this format is used for the World Sprint Championships (both men and women)
  • Mini combination: 500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m, 3000 m - this format was previously used at the World Allround Championships for women.
  • Small combination: 500 m, 1500 m, 3000 m, 5000 m - this format is currently used at the World Allround Championships for women.
  • Big combination: 500 m, 1500 m, 5000 m, 10000 m - this format is used for the World Allround Championships for men.

For all variations, the method of scoring is the same. All times are calculated back to 500 m times. That means that 500 m in 40 seconds will give you 40 points, while a 1500 m time (3×500 m) in 2 minutes (120 seconds, equivalent to 3×40 ) will give you the same amount of points. Points are used up to 3 decimal points, and truncation is applied, the numbers are not rounded. The skater who has the fewest points wins the competiton.


Skaters skate in large group skate large distances. When conducted at a rink, the distances is usually around 40 km, but when skated on frozen outdoor water, the distances can be as long as 200 km. An example of this is the famous Elfstedentocht (Eleven cities tour) which is irregularly held in the Netherlands.


Speed skating results (http://weasel.student.utwente.nl/~speedskating)

Speed skaters

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