Speed skating

Missing image
Gaetan Boucher training for the 1976 Olympics

Speed skating or speedskating 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.



  • 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 which can reduce lap times by a second.


Speed skating is currently conducted on outdoor or indoor ovals, often with artificially frozen ice. For the Olympic Games, rules demand a closed (indoor) oval-shaped track. According to the rules of the International Skating Union, a standard track should be either 400 m or 333 1/3 m long. 400 m is the standard used for all major competitions. Tracks of other, non-standard lengths, such 200 or 250 m, are also in use in some places for training and/or smaller local competitions.

On standard tracks, the curves have a radius of 25–26 m in the inner lane, and each lane is 4–5 m wide.

All races are held in pairs, for which two lanes on the track are used. Skaters wear bands around their upper arm to identify which lane they started in. The colors are white for inner lane and red for outer lane. At the back straight, the skaters switch lanes which causes them both to cover the same distance per lap. Occasionally, quartet starts are used to allow more skaters to start in a shorter time. This involves having two pairs of skaters in the lanes at the same time, but with the second pair starting when the first have completed approximately half of the first lap. The skaters in the second pair will then wear yellow and blue arm bands instead of the usual white/red.


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.

The method of scoring is the same for all combinations. All times are calculated back to 500 m times. That means that 500 m in 40 seconds will give you 40 points, while 1500 m (3×500 m) in 2 minutes (120 seconds, equivalent to 3×40 s) will also give you 40 points. Points are calculated to 3 decimal places, 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.


The International Skating Union has organized world championships speed skating since 1893.

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

Male speedskaters

Female speedskaters

et:Kiiruisutamine fr:Patinage de vitesse nl:Schaatsen#Hardrijden_op_de_schaats ja:スピードスケート no:Hurtiglp p skyter pl:Łyżwiarstwo szybkie


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