The 1984 Olympic speed skating events were held at the Zetra ice rink, which was an outdoor rink with natural ice. The rink opened in 1983 and the first major international events contested there were the 1983 World Junior Championships. Yugoslavia had not competed much in speed skating prior to Sarajevo being awarded the 1984 Winter Olympics. A team was created specifically for the 1984 Olympics, and they débuted only in 1983. The rink became the center for Yugoslav speed skating in the late 1980s; however, it was damaged in the Bosnian-Serbian civil war. The track has not been used for speed skating since 1992 and there are no plans to re-build the rink. At the 1984 Winter Olympics, the track was not considered fast, and all of Eric Heiden’s Olympic records from 1980 stood up, a product both of his brilliance and the slow ice.
Leading up to the 1984 Winter Olympic speed skating events there was no dominant skater among the men such as Heiden in 1980, who retired after the 1980 World Championships, or Ard Schenk in 1972, or Hjalmar Andersen in 1952. But East German Karin Enke was favored in all four events, having twice won the World Championships and the World Sprints since the 1980 Winter Olympics. She would not succeed in that quest, but eventually three skaters won multiple medals, with Enke winning two gold and four medals, and Canada’s Gaétan Boucher, and East German skater Andrea Schöne-Mitscherlich winning three medals, with Boucher also winning two gold medals.
There was no change in the Olympic speed skating program in 1984, which was identical to that of 1976 and 1980, with five men’s events – 500, 1,000, 1,500, 5,000, and 10,000 metres – and four women’s events – 500, 1,000, 1,500, and 3,000 metres.