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Speed Skating

Speed Skating

With the addition of the Mass-Start event to the PyeongChang 2018 programme, Speed Skating consists of 7 events for men and women, which is the most number of events per sport at the Winter Olympic Games.

Events to be contested include the 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m, 5,000m and Mass Start events for both men and women, 10,000m for men, 3,000m for women, and the team pursuit for men and women.

The world’s fastest 180 speed skaters will take to the 8,000 capacity Gangneung Oval in the Gangneung Coastal Cluster in PyeongChang and spectators will have 12 days across the 16-day Games period to witness these athletes inflight.

Athletes to watch: After a character building debut Games at Sochi where he fell in his pet event, the 500m, Daniel Grieg will look to rectify his Games experience if he qualifies for PyeongChang 2018. After a back injury stumped his 2017 World Championships experience, Grieg will be more determined than ever to hit the track at Gangnueng Oval in February 2018.

Hoping to make his Olympic debut in South Korea is Josh Capponi who represented Australia at the Sapporo 2017 Asian Winter Games. Capponi placed 5th in the men’s 10,000m and 7th in the men’s 5,000m in Japan.

Qualification, Nomination & Selection

Australia will be aiming to qualify 2 men in Speed Skating at PyeongChang 2018. Qualification will be based on achieving quota places at 4 ISU sanctioned World Cup events which will be finalised by December 27, 2017. For the full details on qualification click here>>>

If an athlete has qualified then they will be eligible to be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection. For the full details on nomination to the Australian Olympic Winter Team click here>>>


Competition Format & Events

Speed skating is held on a 400m oval rink with skaters racing in lanes and in pairs. Their times are recorded and the best times over the distance win the medals. The pairs racing features a crossover each lap in which racers change lanes, hence eliminating the advantage of drawing an inside berth. As you would expect, strict rules oversee these crossovers to ensure there is no interference. Turns are also common areas for interference. A skater who is interfered with during the race receives the option to skate the distance again.

All events are skated once, with the exception of the men's and women's 500 metres, which are skated twice. The final result in the 500m is based on the total time of two races.

In the team pursuit event, two teams of three athletes each start out from opposite sides and skate eight laps. Ranking is based on the time that the third skater passes the finish line.

In the new Mass Start event, a maximum 28 skaters race for 16 laps in an open racing track (without designating inner or outer lanes for a particular athlete). During the race, there are three intermediate sprints every 4 laps. At each intermediate sprint, the first three skaters will gain 5 – 3- 1 points. Then, at the last sprint, the first three skaters will gain 60 – 40 – 2- points. The competitors who are the first three to cross the finish line win the race.

Australia and Olympic Speed Skating

Speed skater Kenneth Kennedy was the first Australian Winter Olympian when he competed at Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games in 1936. He competed in the 500m, 1500m and 5000m, placing 29th, 33rd and 33rd respectively.

In 1952, the brilliant reign of the colourful character Colin Hickey began. He sold newspapers to save enough money to buy his first pair of skates and took a ship to Norway at the age of 18 to train in the speed skating hub. He represented Australia at three consecutive Games; Oslo 1952, Cortina D’Ampezzo 1956 and Squaw Valley 1960. In 1956 he achieved Australia’s best Olympic result in the 500m and 1500m, placing seventh in both events.

Australia’s best performance came from Colin Coates, a speed skater who had received training from Hickey. At Innsbruck 1976, he finished sixth in the 10,000m. He also finished eighth in the 1500m, 10th in the 5000m, 11th in the 1000m and 23rd in the 500m. He was then 29, competing in his third Olympics. He went on to represent Australia a record six times by Calgary 1988, capping a 20 year Olympic career with his fastest 10,000 metres ever.

Sophie Muir made history at Vancouver 2010 as Australia’s first female speed skater. Muir was an inline skater and switched to the ice at the age of 25 and produced huge results to be selected for Vancouver just over a year later. Muir contested the 500m and 1000m finishing 29th and 30th respectively.

Daniel Grieg was Australia’s sole speed skater at Sochi 2014. Grieg had a character building Olympic debut yet he showed what could be possible for his future. Greig suffered every skater's worst nightmare when he fell in the opening seconds of his first 500m race - his pet event that he won a World Championship medal in just weeks before the Games – resulting in a 39th place finish. However he turned his performance around with a great 1000m race to finish 22nd.

Pre-PyeongChang AUS Tally

- Gold
- Silver
- Bronze

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