Quick Intro: Olympic Speed Skating
A quick intro to Olympic speed skating includes the history of a sport dating back more than 800 years to the 13th century, where the Dutch originally began practicing the sport for it's functionality. Skating allowed messengers to carry information quickly between villages. Today, speed skating is a sport in which athletes race on skates around a 400-meter long track.
It is believed that the first speed skating competition was held in 1676 in the Netherlands. But it wasn't until 1863 that the first official, sanctioned event was held in Oslo, Norway. Just 26 years later, the first world championship event was held in the Netherlands. Dutch, Russian, American, and English teams competed.
The first Olympic speed skating competition was held in Charmonix, France at the 1924 Winter Olympics. Only men were permitted to compete in the five events. Charles Jewtraw of New York won the first gold medal in the 500m event.
Women's events were included in the 1932 Games as a demonstration sport. It wasn't until the 1960 Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, California that women were able to compete for medals. There, Lidia Skoblikor of the Soviet Union won the first gold medals in the 1500m and the 3000m.
Short track speed skating was introduced in to the Olympics with the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France. The popularity of the sport has since increased. Raced on a hockey-rink sized track, the events have different rules and are considered a separate sport from long track speed skating.
Posted on: Apr. 20, 2010