In my last post on the Olympic Winter Sports and in my last post before leaving to Vancouver, I will introduce the Olympic Sport Speed Skating.
Speed skating is the form of ice skating in which skaters race against each other on different distances on skates. In the Olympics, the long distances of ice skating are simply called speed skating, whereas the short man against main events are referred to as an own sport, called short track. Ice skating has its roots in Central and Northern Europe. Records show that already in the mid 16th century, Dutch, Norwegian and Scottish people made use of bones which they put under their shoes in order to move on frozen lakes and rivers. However, the speed skating sport was probably first developed in the United States, where athletes used steel under their shoes. Today, speed skating is a very technical sport. In Vancouver, events will be held in the 500m (Sprint; both Men and Women), 1000m (Men and Women), 1500m (Men and Women), 3000m (Women) 5000m (Men and Women), 10000m (Men) and Team Pursuit (Men and Women).
Speed Skating has been featured at Winter Olympics ever since the very first Winter Olympics in Chamonix 1924. However, the women´s events were only added 1960 in Squaw Valley. More and more events were added over the years, which makes speed skating with 12 events, one of the disciplines with the most medal opportunities. The dominant nations in this sport are without a doubt the nations from which the sport originates from: Norway (25/28/26), The Netherlands (24/28/23) and the United States (28/20/15). The Soviet Union also had strong speed skating athletes but most of them are now starting for the newly developed countries. Germany has probably some of the most popular athletes with Anni-Friesinger-Potsma and Claudia Pechstein, but Pechstein will start in Vancouver because she is banned because of doping suspicions. This makes Friesinger one of the favorites in the women´s events, with her main rivals coming in particular from the Netherlands. The favorites in the men´s events are Sven Kramer (Netherlands, 5000m and 10000m) and US-star Shani Davis (1000m and 1500m).