Speed Skating

Learn about this Winter Olympic sport

Jan 10, 2014 | By TIME For Kids Staff
RICHARD HEATHCOTE—GETTY IMAGES

 

This event is also referred to as long track speed skating. The sport started in Holland in the late 1600s. It first appeared in the Winter Olympic Games in 1924. Women's speed skating was added in 1960.

One of the main differences between speed skating and short track speed skating is the length of the track. The long track speed skating track is more than three times the length of the short track.

Speed skating is broken up into 12 events at the Olympics for both men and women. Men compete at distances of 500 meters, 1,000 meters, 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and a team event. Women take part at all these lengths except 10,000 meters.

The Rules of the Game

A pair of skaters race around the 1,312-foot oval track at the same time. The winner is the skater who has the fastest time after all the pairs have skated.

For the team competition, there are two teams of three athletes each. The teams skate six laps (women), and eight laps (men). Each person on the team takes a turn leading the race and pulling his/her teammate. Skaters can only change lanes once per lap. They can reach speeds of more than 40 miles an hour.  The race ends when the last skater on a team crosses the finish line.

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