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Speed skating at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games

Dutch speedskaters at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Speed skating at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games

What you need to know about speed skating at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games

Speed skating at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games will be contested from Feb. 10-24, with medals awarded in fourteen different events.

Sochi in review

The Dutch speed skaters owned the Sochi Olympics, winning eight out of 12 available gold medals. Claiming at least one medal in every event and sweeping the podium four times, the Dutch collected a total of 23 medals. The second-most successful country, Poland, won three. The biggest Dutch stars were Sven Kramer, who earned two gold medals and a silver, and Ireen Wuest, whose five total medals were the most won by a single Olympian in any sport in Sochi. 

Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer

The Netherlands' Sven Kramer at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Credit: USA TODAY Sports

While the Dutch dominated, the U.S. despaired: for the first time since the 1984 Olympics, the U.S. speed skating team failed to win a single medal in Sochi.

Shani Davis hoped to become the first U.S. man to win the same event at three consecutive Winter Olympics, but instead finished 8th in his signature race, the 1000m. Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe were similarly favored in the women's 1000m, only to finish far off the podium.

The U.S.' highest finish was sixth in the women's team pursuit.

Team USA speed skaters in women's team pursuit at Sochi Olympics

From left: Jilleanne Rookard, Brittany Bowe, and Heather Richardson in the team pursuit quarterfinals during the Sochi Olympics. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

What happened? Many athletes blamed the Mach 39 skin suits, which were specially designed for the U.S. team by Under Armour but had never been tested in competition. Mid-Games, the U.S. speed skating federation allowed the athletes to switch back to the suits they'd worn during the World Cup season, but results didn't improve. In a post-Olympic review, the U.S. federation found that while the suits weren't defective, it was a disadvantage for the athletes to race in a suit they weren't familiar with. Too much travel and training at high altitudes (the Sochi ice rink was at sea level) were also named as factors in the team's dismal performance.

Under Armour and U.S. Speedskating will continue their partnership through the PyeongChang Olympics to 2022. 

Other noteworthy winners in Sochi were Zhang Hong, who became the first Chinese speed skater to win an Olympic gold, and Zbigniew Brodka of Poland, who was the only non-Dutch male speed skater to win gold in Sochi. He edged out Koen Verweij of the Netherlands by 0.003 seconds to finish first in the 1500m.  

Speed Skating

Everything you need to know about the fastest non-mechanical sport in the world

Basics | Competition format | Rules | Equipment | Glossary | Qualification | Origins and Olympic history | Venue

Competition format

Speed skaters will compete across the following fourteen events, with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to the top three finishersrespectively, in each event.

A new event, mass start, will make its debut at the PyeongChang Olympics. In mass start, a maximum of 24 skaters will begin the race simultaneously and continue for 16 laps. Long track speed skaters race against each other in pairs in the other individiual events.

  • Men’s 500m
  • Men's 1000m
  • Men's 1500m
  • Men's 5000m
  • Men's 10,000m
  • Men's mass start
  • Men's team pursuit
  • Women's 500m
  • Women's 1000m
  • Women's 1500m
  • Women's 3000m
  • Women's 5000m
  • Women's mass start
  • Women's team pursuit

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Speed skating events will be held at the Gangneung Oval, part of the Gangneung Olympic Park during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

Gangneung Oval

Credit: Pyeongchang 2018


Athletes to watch

 Bart Swings, Belgium
 Denny Morrison, Canada
 Jan Blokhuijsen, Netherlands
 Sven Kramer, Netherlands
 Kjeld Nuis, Netherlands
 Pavel Kulizhnikov, Russia
 Shani Davis, United States
 Joey Mantia, United States

Shani Davis at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Shani Davis at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Credit: USA TODAY Sports

 Zhang Hong, China
 Martina Sablikova, Czech Republic
 Jorien ter Mors, Netherlands
 Ireen Wuest, Netherlands
 Lee Sang Hwa, South Korea
 Brittany Bowe, United States
 Heather Richardson-Bergsma, United States

What you need to know for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games

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