Reuters - Fri, 05 Feb 18:45:00 2010
Factbox on speed skating ahead of the February 12-28 Vancouver Winter Olympics:
The first recorded speed skating competition was held over a 24km course in eastern England in 1763 but it was not until exactly 100 years later that the first official events were held, in Oslo.
The Netherlands hosted the first world championships in 1889 and three years later the International Skating Union (ISU) was set up to govern the development of all skating sports.
The sport was part of the first Winter Olympics in 1924 and has featured in every Games since. Women's events were added in 1960 at the Squaw Valley Games. Team pursuit made its Olympic debut in Turin.
Skaters race in pairs against the clock on a 400m oval.
500m: The only event in which the competitors skate two races, with the final results decided on the aggregate time. A sprint around one-and-a-quarter laps of the oval.
1,000m: A two-and-a-half-lap race beginning with a staggered start and finishing in the middle of the straight.
1,500m: Three-and-three-quarter laps around the oval.
3,000m: A women-only event over seven-and-a-half laps.
5,000m: Twelve-and-a-half laps.
10,000m: The men's marathon consists of 25 laps.
Team Pursuit: Eight laps for men and six for women. Teams made up of three athletes start at the same time from two different sides of the track. Each member take turns in leading the team and the race is completed when the third athlete crosses the finishing line.
500m: Joey Cheek (USA)
1,000m: Shani Davis (USA)
1,500m: Enrico Fabris (Italy)
5,000m: Chad Hedrick (USA)
10,000m: Bob de Jong (Netherlands)
Team pursuit: Italy (Ippolito Sanfratello, Matteo Anesi,
500m: Svetlana Zhurova (Russia)
1,000m: Marianne Timmer (Netherlands)
1,500m: Cindy Klassen (Canada)
3,000m: Ireen Wust (Netherlands)
5,000m: Clara Hughes (Canada)
Team pursuit: Germany (Anni Friesinger, Claudia Pechstein,
Richmond Olympic Oval, located close to Vancouver International Airport on the banks of the Fraser River, was built for the Games at a cost of some $170 million and has won architectural awards for its dramatic design and environmental sensibilities. Natural light floods into the 8,000-seat oval, which is graced by a waterfront plaza and park.
WATCH OUT FOR
American Shani Davis and Sven Kramer of the Netherlands vying to leave Vancouver with multiple golds. Davis, world record holder at both 1,000 and 1,500m, is competing in four individual events from 500 to 5,000m, while triple world all-around champion Kramer is the world's fastest at 5,000 and 10,000m.
Up-and-coming Christine Nesbitt of the Canadian women's team and 20-year-old American Trevor Marsicano, who are poised to gatecrash the medals party. They both shone at last year's world single-distance championships at the Olympic oval.
Follow the Winter Olympics 24/7 on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and Eurosport HD (Sky 412) British Eurosport channels are streamed online via the Eurosport Player.