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Sports

Speed Skating

Jaewon Chung in a flashy blue suit striding forward on skates as three opponents follow behind him.
Jaewon Chung of South Korea leads during the men’s speed skating mass start semifinals at PyeongChang 2018. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

What's it all about?

Whoosh! If you’re a speed freak that always wants to go faster, speed skating might be the sport for you. Imagine a speedrun in a video game, or boosting in Mario Kart, except it all happens on the ice. Oh, and no cheats or power-ups!

How it's played

Things to watch for

Shani Davis of the United States competes during the men’s speed skating 1,000m at PyeongChang 2018. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Shani Davis of the United States competes during the men’s speed skating 1,000m at PyeongChang 2018. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Lanes and crossovers

  • When the skaters go around a corner they'll cross their outer foot over the inner one.
  • That’s to help maintain balance and speed — this step is called a crossover.
  • Skaters are required to change lanes once per lap, to keep the distance covered equal for all.
Tsubasa Hasegawa of Japan competes during the men's 500m speed skating event at PyeongChang 2018. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Tsubasa Hasegawa of Japan competes during the men's 500m speed skating event at PyeongChang 2018. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Individual events

  • In the various individual races, skaters race two at a time against the clock.
  • The 500m is 1 ¼ laps, the 1000m is 2 ½ laps, and so on. The 10,000m is 25 laps!
  • The shorter races require more speed, and the longer races require more stamina.
Athletes compete during the ladies' speed skating mass start final during PyeongChang 2018. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Athletes compete during the ladies' speed skating mass start final during PyeongChang 2018. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Ready, set, mass start

  • The mass start event returned at PyeongChang 2018 after being absent for 86 years.
  • In this race, up to 24 competitors are on the ice together at the same time!
  • Skaters must race 16 laps, and are awarded extra points for finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
Action packed facts.
  • Canada has 37 Olympic speed skating medals, our most in any winter Olympic sport.

  • Speed skates, or clap skates, have hinges on them, so the boot can lift from the blade at the heel before clapping back into place. This gives the skater extra speed and agility.

  • Women's speed skating was officially added at the Olympic Winter Games Squaw Valley 1960.

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