Find basic information about speed skating and about the Canadian athletes who are in Sochi competing for medals. Look to the right for links to interviews and for information on how your kids can get into speed skating themselves, including related activities they can do at home.
Kids who love to hit the frozen ponds or rinks and give it their all on skates will be drawn to watching this exciting sport. The first organized speed skating race took place in 1763 in England, but it took until 1854 for speed skating to come to Canada when three British army officers raced from Montreal to Quebec City along the St. Lawrence River.
Long track speed skating first appeared in the Winter Olympics in 1924 (it was just called speed skating at that time) and short track officially became an Olympic event in 1992 at the Albertville Winter Games.
More Olympic speed skating at Active for Life
How cool is this?
- In 1998 the “clap skate” was invented, which is a skate with a detachable blade. This means the blade stays on the ice longer!
Here’s how to watch speed skating: Long track versus short track
Long track speed skating features pairs of athletes who race against each other on a large track while trying to get the best time. But short track athletes, who race on an ice surface about the size of a hockey rink, compete in groups of four or eight starting at the same time.
Because starting positions are drawn at random, strategy is a very important part of short track racing. The smartest and most strategic skaters often outperform the fastest skaters. When you watch short track speed racing, see if you can spot the athletes’ strategy. Do they start off fast and try to wear their opponents out? Do they hold back and save a burst of energy for the end? Watch as the athletes pass each other showing off their incredible balance and agility.
The order in which skaters cross the finish line determines whether they move on to the next round of racing. A panel of judges ensures that the rules are being followed, and it is not uncommon for skaters to be disqualified after the race is complete.
There are two types of speed skating at the Olympic Winter Games
- Long track: men and women at various distances
- Short track: men and women at various distances and in team relay
Cheer for Canada’s speed skaters
- List of Canadian athletes competing in short track
- Event schedule: long track, short track
- Watch on CBC-TV: broadcast schedule
Watch some of Canada’s best short track skaters in action
This video was created and shared by Speed Skating Canada.