Speed Skating

Team Italy skate during the Men's Team Pursuit Quarterfinals on day nine of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Speed Skating Oval on February 13, 2022 in Beijing, China.
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Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026


Speed Skating

Speed skating developed in the late 1600s as a means of quickly moving over frozen rivers and lakes. It became an Olympic sport in 1924. As we look forward to Milano Cortina 2026, here is everything you need to know about speed skating.



Women skate distances from 500 to 5000 metres, while men skate up to 10,000 metres on an indoor 400-m frozen track. In the individual races at each distance, athletes race the clock for a test in which mental stamina and accurate movements are key. The mass start, on the other hand, is unpredictable, with everyone racing against each other. In the team pursuit event, competing nations are positioned on opposite sides of the track as a point of reference, challenging each other in the different heats until reaching the finals.The speed skating competitions at Milano Cortina 2026 will feature 14 events for both men and women.

  • 500 m (men's and women's) 
  • 1000 m (men's and women's) 
  • 1500 m (men's and women's) 
  • 3000 m (women's) 
  • 5000 m (men's and women's) 
  • 10000 m (men's) 
  • Team pursuit (men's and women's) 
  • Mass start (men's and women's)



Olympic History

This sport made its Olympic debut at the 1924 Games in Chamonix, with four distances (500 m, 1500 m, 5000 m, and 10000 m) in the men's competitions. Women's events were added to the programme at the 1932 Games in Lake Placid for demonstration purposes, and officially included at the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley. The latest additions to the programme were the men's and women's team pursuit races at the 2006 Games in Torino, and the mass start event at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.

Basic Rules

In speed skating, the track is 400 metres long, the same size as an Olympic running track. Athletes race against the clock in a timed format. There is a single round where the athletes try to obtain the best time. Skaters are equipped with a special system called a ‘clap blade’, which has a hinge mechanism on the heel that allows the blade to remain in contact with the ice at the end of the sprint.

In the mass start, all the athletes start together and race against their competitors, in contrast to the traditional long track, which are timed and involve heats.

In the team pursuit, each team has three athletes that compete in elimination races to reach the final.

Curiosities about Italian Championships

Enrico Fabris won gold in the 1500 m and team pursuit, as well as bronze in the 5000 m at the 2006 Olympics in Torino. He became the first Italian to win Olympic medals in speed skating.

Francesca Lollobrigida made history as the first female Italian athlete to win two medals at the 2022 Games in Beijing: a silver in the 3000 m and a bronze in the mass start.


Here are the answers to your questions.

  • What are the differences between short track and long-track speed skating?

  • Which athletes have won the most medals at the Olympic Games in speed skating?

  • Which countries have won the most medals at the Olympics?

  • Who are the Italian Olympic Speed Skating champions?

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