Winter sports introductions – Day 2

4 February 2014

Speed skating is a skating discipline which originated in the thirteenth century in Holland, where people practiced skating for crossing the frozen water. However, it was not until the seventeenth century that a speed skating competition was held for the first time.

The 1924 Chamonix Winter Olympic Games contained five speed skating events but only for male competitors. Uncommon for the time, it not only included an all-round competition, but also awarded medals for the individual distances: 500 m, 1500 m, 5000 m and 10,000 m. The all-round event was dropped before the 1928 Games.

The 1932 speed skating events were held according to the rules of the American speed skating federation, meaning the skaters competed in small packs of skaters (similar to short track speed skating), instead of the common against-the-clock format. These Games in Lake Placid, New York also saw the first female speed skaters at the Olympics, although their events were only demonstration events. Women’s events were also set to be held at the 1940 Winter Olympics, which were cancelled. After the war, they were withdrawn again until 1960 (Squaw Valley), when the women skated 500 m, 1,000 m, 1,500 m and 3,000 m.

Following the introduction of World Sprint Championships in the early 1970s, the 1,000 m for men was added in Innsbruck (1976), while the women’s 5,000 m made its Olympic debut in 1988. The latest addition to the Olympic speed skating programme is the team pursuit, which was added for the 2006 Turin Games. Events now include 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m, 3,000m, 5,000m and 10,000m, as well as Men’s Team Pursuit and Women’s Team Pursuit.

At the 2010 Winter Olympics, Haralds Silovs became the first athlete in Olympic history to participate in both short track (1,500m) and long track (5,000m) speed skating, and the first to compete in two different disciplines on the same day.

Any Silovs in your family tree…..?

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