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Speed Skating

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The roots of skating date back over 1000 years to the frozen waterways of Europe.  As a sport, speed skating competitions were recorded as early as 1763 with the first World Championship organized by the Netherlands and held in 1892. 

Speed Skating Facts

  • Skaters can reach speeds of 60km/h

  • Athletes wear helmets, neck guards, knee pads, and cut proof gloves

  • Skates are specific to athlete weight and ability

  • Blades are rockered to fit the tight corners of the track

There are two different disciplines in speed skating; long track, which takes place on a 400m oval, and short track, which takes place on a 100m or 110m oval (usually in an arena). Long track speed skating was contested at the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924.  Short track debuted as a demonstration sport in 1988 and earned full medal status in 1992. 

Athletes compete at the BC Winter Games in the discipline of short track; an event that offers an exciting, high speed event for participants and spectators alike.  These 12-15 year old athletes compete in two separate age classes and in up to five different races.  The mass start events include the sprint distance (400m or 500m) as well as the 1500m.  These events are very strategic as drafting, passing, and a sprint to the finish are common.  The 200m sprint pursuit race has skaters race twice against a rival on the other side of the rink.  A 30 lap points race has skaters earn points by crossing the line first at four specified laps.  Finally, there are the thrilling relays with four teams of four skaters competing at one time.

The BC Speed Skating Association oversees the sport in British Columbia through their 27 member clubs.  Notable alumni of the BC Winter Games include sisters Tori, Josie and Sara Spence of Kamloops who went on to win multiple medals at the 2011 and 2015 Canada Winter Games and are now part of Canada’s national long track development teams.