Speed skating, or speedskating, is a competitive form of ice skating in which the competitors race each other in traveling a certain distance on skates. Types of speed skating are long track speed skating, short track speed skating, and marathon speed skating. In the Olympic Games, long-track speed skating is usually referred to as just “speed skating”, while short-track speed skating is known as “short track”. The ISU, the governing body of both ice sports, refers to long track as “speed skating” and short track as “short track skating”.
The standard rink for long track is 400 meters long, but tracks of 200, 250 and 333⅓ meters are used occasionally. It is one of two Olympic forms of the sport and the one with the longer history. An international federation was founded in 1892, the first for any winter sport. The sport enjoys large popularity in the Netherlands and Norway. There are top international rinks in a number of other countries, including Canada, the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Russia. A World Cup circuit is held with events in the those countries and with two events in Thialf, the ice hall in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
The sport is described as “long track” in North American usage, to distinguish it from a 111 m oval on an ice hockey rink in short-track skating or on a short-track oval.
International Skating Union rules allow some leeway in the size and radius of curves.
Short track skating takes place on a smaller rink, normally the size of an ice hockey rink. Distances are shorter than in long track racing, with the longest Olympic race being 3000 meters. Races are usually held as knockouts, with the best two in heats of four or five qualifying for the final race, where medals are awarded. Disqualifications and falls are not uncommon.
The sport originates from pack-style events held in North America and was officially sanctioned in the 1970s, becoming an Olympic sport in 1992. Although this form of speed skating is newer, it is growing faster than long-track speed skating, largely because short track can be done on a regular ice rink rather than a long-track oval.
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