Speed Skating

Facts

Discipline of Skating
Participants 1675
NOCs 43
Competitions held 188 (Venues)
Distinct events 24
IF International Skating Union

Description

Speed skating emerged on the canals of Holland as early as the 13th century. Competition has been held in the Netherlands since at least 1676. The sport spread throughout Europe and national competitions were held in the 1870s. The first World Championships were contested in 1889, although the International Skating Union (ISU) held its first championships in 1893, one year after its formation.

Speed skating was contested at the 1924 Olympic Winter Games and has been on the Olympic Program since. Women first competed at the Olympics in 1932 when it was a demonstration sport. Women’s speed skating as a full medal sport was planned for 1940, but did not actually begin until 1960. The sport is governed by the International Skating Union, which also governs figure skating. The ISU was formed in 1892 and has 84 members (representing 64 nations) as of 2010.

Olympic speed skating has almost always been contested in the European system of skating time trials in two-man pairs. In 1932 at Lake Placid, the Americans convinced the ISU to hold the events in the North American style of pack racing. Several top Europeans boycotted the events as a result and the Americans won all four gold medals.

Speed skating has been dominated by the Norwegians, the Dutch, and the former Soviet Union and its republics. In addition, the women of the former German Democratic Republic were outstanding speed skaters. The United States has produced excellent sprinters, winning many medals and gold medals by both men and women. In addition, in 1980, the United States’ Eric Heiden won all five available gold medals, a dominance in speed skating matched only by the USSR’s Lidiya Skoblikova, who won all four women’s events in 1964. As she also won two additional gold medals in 1960, Skoblikova is the most successful Olympic speed skater.

All-time medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Netherlands NED 42 40 39 121
United States USA 29 22 17 68
Norway NOR 27 29 28 84
Soviet Union URS 24 17 19 60
Germany GER 14 16 10 40
Canada CAN 9 13 15 37
East Germany GDR 8 12 9 29
Finland FIN 7 8 9 24
Sweden SWE 7 4 5 16
Republic of Korea KOR 5 8 3 16
Japan JPN 4 7 10 21
Russian Federation RUS 3 5 5 13
Czech Republic CZE 3 2 2 7
West Germany FRG 3 0 0 3
Italy ITA 2 0 2 4
People's Republic of China CHN 1 3 4 8
Austria AUT 1 2 3 6
Poland POL 1 2 3 6
Belgium BEL 0 1 1 2
Belarus BLR 0 1 0 1
Democratic People's Republic of Korea PRK 0 1 0 1
Kazakhstan KAZ 0 0 1 1
Olympic Athletes from Russia OAR 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Lidiya Skoblikova URS 6 0 0 6
Ireen Wüst NED 5 5 1 11
Claudia Pechstein GER 5 2 2 9
Clas Thunberg FIN 5 1 1 7
Bonnie Blair USA 5 0 1 6
Eric Heiden USA 5 0 0 5
Sven Kramer NED 4 2 3 9
Ivar Ballangrud NOR 4 2 1 7
Yevgeny Grishin URS 4 1 0 5
Johann Olav Koss NOR 4 1 0 5

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
500 metres Men 23
1,000 metres Men 12
1,500 metres Men 23
5,000 metres Men 23
10,000 metres Men 23
Mass Start Men 1
Team Pursuit (8 laps) Men 4
500 metres Women 17
1,000 metres Women 17
1,500 metres Women 17
3,000 metres Women 16
5,000 metres Women 9
Mass Start Women 1
Team Pursuit (6 laps) Women 4
500 metres Boys 3
1,500 metres Boys 3
3,000 metres Boys 1
Mass Start Boys 3
500 metres Girls 3
1,500 metres Girls 3
3,000 metres Girls 1
Mass Start Girls 3
Team Sprint Mixed Youth 2
Allround Men 1