Yevgeni Lalenkov —International Master of Sports, Russian and European champion, member of Russia's National Speed Skating Team: «Speed skating gives me an unmatched feeling of freedom and movement that brings to mind a bird's flight. An opportunity to achieve maximum speed using your own resources when everything is decided in a split second makes this sport even more thrilling.».
Speed skating was first contested at the 1924 Olympic Winter Games and has been on the Olympic Winter program ever since. Women first competed in speed skating at the Olympics in 1960. Team pursuit became part of the Olympic program only in 2006.
Speed Skating in Russia
Up until the 19th century, speed skating was one of the most widely practiced sports in Russia. Its accessibility and the fact that everybody could try it gave it a special place in the nation’s heart. Entire families came in to the Patriarch’s Ponds in Moscow, where they skated to the accompaniment of a brass band.
Russia's first speed skating championship took place in Moscow on February 19, 1889, at a skating rink owned by the Moscow River Yacht Club.
Speed Skating as it is
In speed skating, athletes travel around a 400 m oval rink as fast as possible.
Speed skating at the Olympic Games consists of ten individual events: 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m for both men and women, women’s 3000m, men’s 10,000m and Team pursuit for men and women. Thus 12 sets of Olympic medals are awarded in speed skating.
In each event, skaters race in pairs using inner and outer lanes on a standard 400m oval. Athletes change the lanes at every lap to skate the equal distance. All events are skated once, with the exception of the men’s and women’s 500 meters, which are skated twice. The final result is based on the total time taken over the two races.
In a team pursuit, men skate 8 laps and women–6. 2 teams composed of 3 skaters participate in each heat, with teams starting from opposite sides of the oval at the same time. Each skater in a team becomes a leader of the group taking all air resistance while his partners skate behind him. The race comes to an end only when the last skater on a team crosses the finish line.
- Skaters use special “clap skates” whose blade isn’t attached to the boot. These boots are usually made of kangaroo leather.
- Skaters wear skin-tight racing suits with hoods to reduce air resistance.
Speed Skating in Sochi
The “Adler-Arena” Skating Center in Sochi is located in the Olympic Park and looks like an iceberg or an ice fault. A crystal face theme is supported by angular walls and triangular stained-glass windows. The gray and white color of the building enhances this impression.
The “Adler-Arena” Skating Center is designed to make the utmost use of local natural features. Spectators will be able to admire scenic mountain views to the north and seascapes to the south. For this reason, the walls along the sides of the skating rink are made as transparent as possible.
This 8,000 seat facility is to be commissioned in September 2012 for test competitions.
After the Games, the “Adler-Arena” Skating Center will be used as an exhibition center.