Speed Skating - Sochi 2014 sport profile

A guide to speed skating at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Speed Skating - Sochi 2014 sport profile

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Speed skating (Reuters)


There are 12 medals up for grabs in Sochi: six for the men, six for the women.

Men will compete for 500 metres, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m, 10000m and team pursuit, while the women will compete for 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and team pursuit.

Skaters race along the 400m oval in two lanes and switch on each lap with the competitor on the outside lane moving in holding the right of way.

All races in Sochi will be run once apart from the 500m event which will race twice with the total time over both determining the winners.

In the team pursuit race, two teams of three skaters start at opposite sides of the track with the race completed when the last of the skaters crosses the finish line. The men's team pursuit consists of eight laps while the women's is being held over six.


Speed skating has always featured on the Olympic programme, making its debut in 1924 at the first Winter Games in Chamonix. Women were permitted to compete at the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley in four events with that rising to five in 1988 and then six in Turin eight years ago.

America, Netherlands, Norway, Canada, Germany and Russia have been the sport's traditional powerhouses with the emergence of South Korea as a strong force in recent years.

At the 1932 Games in New York, Americans swept the podium after organisers opted for a mass start, which irritated and led to a boycott by a number of European competitors who were used to the two-lane approach. Both start styles eventually found a place in the Olympics when short-track skating was added to the programme at the 1992 Albertville Games.

At the 2006 Games in Turin, American Shani Davis became the first black athlete to win an individual Winter Olympic gold medal after his success in the 1000m.

At the Vancouver Games four years ago, Latvian Haralds Silovs became the first athlete to compete in both short and long-track speed skating at the same Olympics.


The 8,000 seater Adler Arena skating centre is located in the coastal cluster in Olympic Park, Sochi.

At 274 metres long, it is the length of three soccer fields.

It opened in 2012, has two competition tracks and one training track and will be converted into an exhibition centre after the Games.


Davis is a strong favourite to win his third straight 1000m Olympic title in Sochi, while few will back against Dutch skater Sven Kramer doing the double in the 5000m and 10000m.

In the women's competition, South Korea's Olympic champion and world record holder Lee Sang-hwa looks set for another 500m title, while Czech skater Martina Sablikova is eyeing a repeat of her Vancouver 3000-5000m golden double.

Germany's Claudia Pechstein will be out to stop Sablikova and add to her five Olympic gold medals.

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