Speed Skating is an Olympic Discipline, carried out on ice wearing ice skates. There are various forms, like long track speed skating, short track speed skating, inline speed skating, and quad speed skating.
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Ice skating used to be restricted to places with natural ice areas and was therefore bound to weather conditions. Over the years, artificially created and isolated ice areas were developed and the first stadium was roofed in Canada in 1860. In 1876, the first artificially built skating rink was constructed in London and ice skating was spread worldwide. In 1871 in Vienna, the oil cloth manufacturer Eduard Engelmann sen. built an ice skating rink for his friends and family in his factory and the gardens. Finally in 1931, his son Eduard Engelmann jun. built the world’s first open-air artificial skating rink. Due to the further development of synthetically produced ice, there are ice skating locations all over the world today, just like virtual bookmakers, wich are everywhere with a little help of the internet: take advantage of our outstanding offers and open an account at worlds biggest betting institutions, like Betsafe or bet365. Players registerd over our site recive a unique deposite bonus.
Races on ice skates were first organized in the 19th century and the first competitions were held by Norwegian clubs in 1863. The Norwegian Axel Paulsen was named Amateur Champion Skater of the World in 1884 after winning competitions in the United States. The first so called World Championships were carried out in 1889 in Amsterdam with participants from the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, and the Netherlands. Three years later, the International Skating Union (ISU), the first international winter sports federation, was founded in Scheveningen.
The length of competitions held varied. In 1892, the ISU standardized distances for world championships to 500 m, 1,500 m, 5,000 m, and 10,000 m. The skaters started in pairs, each to their own lane and had to change lanes after every lap to ensure they covered the same distance. In 1909, the Elfstedentocht (touring through eleven cities) was organized in the Netherlands as an outdoor-competition and has since then been held at irregular intervals, whenever the ice was deemed good enough. Since natural ice conditions are not as common as they used to be, the Alternative Elfstedentocht was arranged in countries like Austria, Finland or Canada. The first Winter Olympic Games featuring long track speed skating were planned to be held in 1916, but due to World War I the plans had to be postponed until 1924. The first Olympic gold medal was won by the US-American Charles Jewtraw. Timing issues were a problem until electronic clocks were developed in the 1960s, and several Norwegian attendees at the Olympics claimed that their skaters had 'clocked' a better time.
Norwegian and Finnish skaters used to predominate in speed skating between the world wars, along with Latvians and Austrians. At the Olympic Games 1932 races were held as packstyle races, which was common in North America. Americans and Canadians won all medals and Norway, Sweden, Finland and Japan protested to the United States Olympic Committee, condemning the manner of competitions and demanding not to carry out mass start races at the Olympics ever again. Nevertheless, the ISU adopted short track speed skating with mass start races on shorter tracks in 1967. Until the 1930s, women were not accepted in ISU speed skating competitions. In North America women’s races were held for some time and women competed at the Winter Olympic Games 1932 in a demonstration event, but the International Skating Union did not organize official competitions until 1936. Nevertheless, the Polish Zofia Nehringowa set the first official record in 1929. Women’s long track speed skating has been dominated by East Germany and later by reunified Germany.
In speed skating, races are held in pairs. Competitors race each other by travelling a certain distance on skates. A track has two lanes and skaters wear bands around their upper arms to identify which lane they started in, whereas white is used for inner lane and red for outer lane. Skaters switch lanes at the back straight. Therefore, they have to cover the same distance per lap. If both skaters emerge from the corner at the exact same time, the skater on the inner lane will have to let the other one pass in front of him. For pragmatic and practical reasons as well as to allow more skaters to complete their races, quartet starts are used. Two pairs of skaters are racing in the lanes at the same time, but the second pair does not start until the first one has completed about half of the first lap. The second pair skaters get to wear yellow and blue bands to distinguish them from the first pair.
Short track speed skating is a mass start race on a smaller oval ice rink with a circumference of 111.12 m and dimensions of 60 m x 30 m, which is the same size as an international hockey rink. Distances are shorter than in long track racing, whereas the longest consists of 1,500 m. Races are held as knockouts; the best two of four or five skaters qualify for the final race. Short track speed skating originates from mass start speed skating events. It was common in the US and Canada, opposed to international forms of speed skating, where skaters started in pairs. At the Winter Olympic Games 1932, the mass start form was practiced. The International Skating Union adopted short track speed skating in 1967, although international competitions were not organized until 1976. The first short track speed skating world championships were held in 1981, but earlier events later also obtained that status. The first Olympic Games featuring short track speed skating were held in 1992, but it was first demonstrated at the Winter Olympic Games 1988. The races are contested in four individual distances and one relay distance. Due to the tight corners, it is impossible for skaters to skate the exact track. Little emphasis is put on timing; finishing position is all that matters. There are four to six skaters to a race and many heats are needed to eliminate the weaker competitors. Only the top two or three skaters will make it to the next round. This leads to pack strategies that are not common in long track races. Often, the one who best executes his strategy wins. This may also lead to contact between skaters, whereas there exist strict guidelines on what is permissible and what is not. Several referees decide whether a skater will be disqualified for impeding or illegal contact with another skater.
Actions that will result in disqualification (DQ) from a race:
- Off-track: Leaving the designated track
- Cross-tracking: Cutting in front of a competitor who is attempting to pass.
- Team skating: Conspiring with others to determine the race result.
- Assistance: Giving physical assistance to another skater.
- Shooting the line/Kicking out: Driving the foot in lead ahead to reach the finish faster, resulting in the lifting of the rear foot off the ice and creating a dangerous situation for the other skaters.
- Unsportsmanlike conduct: Cursing, kicking your feet, striking other skaters or officials as well as not acting like an athlete or a role model in any other manner.
- Equipment: Not wearing or losing equipment during the race as well as the exposure of skin, excluding face and neck.
- False Start: Starting before the firing of the starter’s pistol twice.
- Did not finish: Not finishing the race, usually due to injury.
- Did not skate: The skater did not go to the starting line.
Long track speed skating
Long track speed skating is the other Olympic form, next to short track speed skating. It is very popular in the Netherlands and the United States. A 400 m oval ice rink is used and races are held as time trials, where skaters start in pairs or in quarters. They switch lanes on the back straight, skating one outer and one inner curve.
Shani Davis is an American speed skater competing in short and long track competitions. He was the first black athlete to win a gold medal in an individual sport at the Winter Olympics 2006. In 2005 and 2006, he won the World Allround Championships and in 2004, the World Single Distance Championships.
Davis learned to roller skate at the age of two and was soon enrolled at the Evanston Speed Skating Club, where he won regional races. Davis participated in a development program for young speed skaters at the age of 16 and competed in 1999 in the junior world championships and the national team.
In 2000, he became well-known as the first U.S. skater to make the long and short track teams at the Junior World Teams. The next year, Davis was able to earn a spot on the Olympic team after winning the qualifications in a spectacular race. In 2003, Davis qualified for the World Championships in Göteborg. The next year, he finished second in the World Allround Long Track Championships in Norway. In 2005, he set three world records on the 1,500 m, 1,000 m and the overall time at the World Championship Qualifications. At the Winter Olympic Games 1996, Davis won gold on the 1,000 m and silver on the 1,500 m. Recently, he has won gold in Salt Lake City on the 1,000 m and the 1,500 m and bronze at the Hamar Sprint.