Speed Skating at the Winter Olympics refers to long track speed skating (as compared to Short Track Speed Skating), and has a longer history at the Olympics than the shorter version. The speed skating events are held on a 400 m oval on ice. The races are held as time trials with skaters starting in pairs. The skaters perform one inner curve and one outer curve on each lap, changing over on the back straight.
Speed Skating Events for 2014
There are 12 events in speed skating at the Winter Olympics:
- 500 m for men and women
- 1,000 m for men and women
- 1,500 m for men and women
- 3,000 m for women
- 5,000 m for men and women
- 10,000 m for men
- Team Pursuit for men and women
- The first Winter Olympic gold medalist was Charlew Jewtraw (USA) who won the 500 meters speed skating title.
- The most medals by an American athlete (in all Winter Olympic sports) is six by speed skater Bonnie Blair.
- The Winter Games at St Moritz in 1928 was plagued with warm weather, resulting in the cancellation of the 10,000-meter speed-skating race.
- At the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics all four medal races for men and the demonstration races for women were skated in the so-called "North American pack style," with mass starts. That was the only Olympics in which long track races were conducted using the pack style.
- In Oslo in 1952, 28-year-old Norwegian truck driver Hjalmar Andersen won three speed-skating gold medals, setting Olympic records in two of the events.
- The first person to win five individual gold medals in one Games (Summer and Winter) was American Eric Heiden, when he won all five men's speed skating titles (three of Mark Spitz's swimming gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics were in relays). The events were 500 meters, 1,000 meters, 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters, and 10,000 meters.
- Christa Luding-Rothenburger of East Germany is the only athlete to have won the medals in both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games, in the same year. She won the women's 1000 meter speed skating event at the Winter Olympics in Calgary 1988, and seven months later won a silver medal in track cycling in the Seoul Summer Olympic Games.
- In Calgary in 1988, Yvonne van Gennip of the Netherlands won three speed skating gold
- In the speed skating competition in 1994, Norway's Johann Olav Koss won three gold medals, setting a world record in each event.
- Also in 1994, Bonnie Blair of the USA won two speed skating gold medals, which made her America's most successful Olympic woman with five gold medals from three Games.
- In 2002, German speed-skater Claudia Pechstein won two gold medals, thus taking home a medal in four straight Winter Games.
- At the 2010 Winter Olympics, Haralds Silovs became the first athlete in Olympic history to participate in both short track (1500m) and long track (5000m) speed skating.