During the upcoming 2014 Olympics there will be 98 different medal events. A total of 12 will take place on the ice at Adler Arena home of the long track speedskating which is one of the biggest sports to compete in the winter games.
Speedskating is also one of the oldest Winter Olympic sports. Years after first skating down frozen rivers, people in Scandinavia and the Netherlands started to do it for fun and sport in the late 16th century. It continued to grow in popularity across Europe and North America. At the first Olympics speedskating had five events: the 500 meters, 1500 meters, 5000 meters, 10,000 meters and the all-round. All continue to be competed with the exception of all-round. Women have been competing in speedskating since the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley.
In nearly all of the events there are only two skaters on the ice who skate in lanes but switch lanes each lap to keep the distance even. The two exceptions is the marathon and team pursuit. The marathon is a group start over a long distance like 40k or 200k. The marathon is not yet an Olympic event. The team pursuit was added in the 2006 games and features two teams lined up across the ice from each other and race to finish 8 laps first or avoid being chased down by the other team.
The United States own the most gold in Speedskating with 29, but the Netherlands and Norway are usually the teams to watch with 82 and 80 total medals respectively. The Netherlands won 8 of the 14 events at the 2013 Essent ISU World Single Distances Championships including a sweep of the men’s 10,000m. American speed skater Shani Davis will make a third attempt to win the Olympics 1500m event after coming up just short in Vancouver and Turin. Davis did win gold in the 1000m in each of those Olympics.
Come February the action will be faced paced and exciting across all 12 days of competition. It will be here before we know it. To prepare and see many more great speedskating photos check out Newscom.