Long Track Speed Skating at PyeongChang 2018

Venues: Gangneung Oval

Competition Dates: February 10-16, 18-19, 21, 23-24 (Days 1-7, 9-10, 12, 14-15)

Events: 14 (7 men, 7 women) 

Long track speed skating is considered the fastest human-powered sport in the sport, with skaters reaching speeds of more than 60 km/hr. All long track speed skating events take place on a 400m oval and are timed to the hundredth of a second (0.01).

In the individual distance events, skaters race in pairs against the clock. Skating counter-clockwise around the oval, the skaters change lanes once per lap to equalize the distance covered. The skater in the outside lane has the right-of-way if the two skaters arrive at the crossover point at the same time. Men and women both compete in the 500m (1 ¼ laps), 1000m (2 ½ laps), 1500m (3 ¾ laps) and 5000m (12 ½ laps). The women also have a 3000m (7 ½ laps) race while the men have a 10,000m (25 laps) race.

OLY SPEED SKATING 20140210

In the men’s and women’s mass start, skaters cover 16 laps of the oval. As the name implies, all competitors are on the ice at one time. During the race there are three intermediate sprints (after four, eight and 12 laps) for which skaters are awarded points (five for first, three for second, one for third) that count towards the final standings. The final sprint to the finish awards 60 points for first, 40 points for second, and 20 points for third, ensuring that the first three skaters to complete the 16 laps are also ranked as the top three in the race results.

Ivanie Blondin (front, right) during the World Cup mass start in Calgary on November 15, 2015.

The men’s team pursuit event covers eight laps of the oval while the women’s team pursuit event covers six laps. Two teams of three skaters begin simultaneously on opposite sides of the oval. Team members take turns leading with the other skaters following closely behind to take advantage of drafting. The team completes the race when all three members have crossed the finish line. Olympic competition begins with the quarterfinals, held in a time trial format. The four teams with the best times advance to the semifinals where the fastest team faces the fourth-fastest and the second-fastest team faces the third-fastest. Semifinal winners compete for gold and silver, while semifinal losers compete for bronze.

Men's team pursuit (Vancouver 2010)

Canadian History (Pre-PyeongChang 2018)

Canadian long track speed skaters have won 35 Olympic medals, the country’s greatest total in any winter sport.

Denny Morrison was the only Canadian to win medals on the big oval at Sochi 2014, first capturing silver in the 1000m followed by bronze in the 1500m. Morrison was only able to compete in the 1000m after teammate Gilmore Junio relinquished his spot in the event, feeling that Morrison had the better shot at a medal. Morrison has four Olympic medals in his career, having previously won team pursuit gold at Vancouver 2010 (with Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux) and silver at Turin 2006.

Canada’s most decorated Winter Olympian is Cindy Klassen, who won six medals, including a remarkable five at Turin 2006. Her 3000m bronze at Salt Lake City 2002 only foreshadowed what was to come four years later when she won gold in the 1500m, silver in the 1000m and team pursuit, and bronze in the 3000m and 5000m. That is the most medals ever won by a Canadian athlete at one Olympic Games.

Cindy Klassen

Dual sport Olympian Clara Hughes won four of her six medals in long track speed skating. She began with 5000m bronze at Salt Lake City 2002 before winning gold in that event at Turin 2006 where she also won silver with the team pursuit. She won another 5000m bronze at Vancouver 2010.

Canada has two other quadruple medallists in long track speed skating. Gaétan Boucher was a double gold medallist at Sarajevo 1984 in the 1000m and 1500m where he also won bronze in the 500m. He added those to the 1000m silver he won at Lake Placid 1980. Kristina Groves won two silver medals at Turin 2006 in the 1500m and team pursuit. She added another 1500m silver and a 3000m bronze at Vancouver 2010.

Speed Skating - Women's

Canada’s only other double gold medallist is Catriona Le May Doan, who won 500m gold at Nagano 1998 and Salt Lake City 2002 to make her the first Canadian athlete to successfully defend an individual Olympic gold medal. She also won 1000m bronze in Nagano. Rounding out Canada’s gold medallists is Christine Nesbitt who won the 1000m at Vancouver 2010.

The first Olympic success for Canadian long track speed skaters was at Lake Placid 1932 where five medals were won. Alex Hurd and Willy Logan shared the podium in the 1500m with their 2-3 finish. Hurd added a bronze in the 500m while Logan also won bronze in the 5000m. Frank Stack was the 10,000m bronze medallist. Between then and Boucher’s breakthrough, Canada won just two medals: Gordon Audley’s 500m bronze at Oslo 1952 and Cathy Priestner’s 500m silver at Innsbruck 1976.

The 500m proved to be one of Canada’s strengths. Susan Auch won back-to-back silvers at Lillehammer 1994 and Nagano 1998, sharing the podium with Le May Doan at the latter. Also sharing a 500m podium in Nagano were silver and bronze medallists Jeremy Wotherspoon and Kevin Overland (Crockett).

Catriona Le May Doan (right) and Susan Auch celebrate their gold and silver medals.