Long Track Speed Skating to: Short Track
Racing in pairs, counterclockwise, on two lanes of a 400m oval track, the skaters change lanes every lap in order to equalize the distance covered. The skater in the outside lane has the right-of-way at the crossover if the skaters arrive at the same time. The Olympic and World Championships distances include the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m for women and the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m and 10000m for men. The team pursuit event made its debut at the Torino Winter Olympic Games with 2 teams on the ice chasing each other down over the course of 6 or 8 laps for women and men respectively. Currently, the 100m is a demonstration event which displays the pure speed of the fastest athletes on ice. Pairs are selected by a draw held by the referee the night before the first race. As a rule, skaters are grouped by performance. A random draw designates the starting lanes, inner or outer, and the starting order for each group. Separate draws are held for each race. The skater starting in the inner lane wears a white armband and the skater in the outer lane wears a red arm band. The skaters’ races against the clock and their times from each race are converted into a point system known as the Sammelagt Point System, which simply means total points. Each racer’s point total is based on his or her performance time over a given distance. The points for the 500m race are determined by a skater’s time in seconds. For example, if a skater covers the distance in 37.65 seconds, he or she has 37.650 points. In order for each distance to contribute equally to the total, the skater’s time for longer races is converted into seconds then divided by the number of 500m in the event. For overall competitions, the final results are determined by combining the points accumulated for each distance raced. The overall winner is the skater with the fewest points.
Force is maximized in speed skating by adopting the crouched position which reduces air resistance and which is characteristic of the sport. The lower the crouch, the more the leg can extend to the side during the push, lengthening the time spent applying force to the ice. With conventional, fixed-blade speed skates, good technical speed skating is almost soundless — except during the start — because the push is delivered through the middle of the skate, not the toe. The new clapskate, however, permits skaters to push with their toe, thus utilising their calf muscles more efficiently and generating more speed. Clapskates also prevent the tip of the blade from digging into the ice and more importantly, they let the blade stay in contact longer with the ice. Most skaters adopt a starting position with their weight evenly distributed between the two skates. The front foot is placed on the ice, perpendicular to the starting line. The back foot is placed at an angle to the starting line so that the initial push is as powerful as possible. Some skaters run off the starting line, going for maximum leg speed; others try to skate off concentrating on maximum push and leg extension. Whatever the technique, all skaters strive for a smooth transition from the short steps of the start to the long, smooth efficient push of full speed skating.
The blade ranges from 38 to 45 cm in length and is about 1.25 mm thick. The high-tempered, carbon steel blade has very little rocker, or curve, compared to hockey and figure skates and permits speed skaters to glide in long, straight lines. The blade on a clapskate detaches at the heel and there is a spring-loaded hinge under the ball of the foot which serves to snap the blade back into its original position. Speed skates are hand-sharpened, a procedure that takes 15 to 20 minutes for one pair. For maximum efficiency during the push, the edges must be at perfect 90 degree angles. Over time, the angles get rounded off causing the skate to lose sharpness, thus causing slips during the push. High-performance skaters sharpen their blades after every race. Traditionally, the speed skate boot is made of leather and fits like a glove. The only rigid part of the boot is the heel, which is reinforced for extra stability. Some skaters now use boots similar to short track boots with a molded fiberglass bottom. The upper part of the boot is less rigid than a short track boot and it is cut lower on the ankle. Some skaters do not wear socks in order to increase the feel of the skates on the ice. Speed skaters minimize air resistance by wearing tight fitting skin suits with aerodynamic hoods made of various lycra and coated fabrics. The advancement of technical fabrics has increased dramatically in the past 4 or 5 years. Most skaters use eyewear to enhance vision or to prevent tearing caused by the wind at high speeds.
Our long track practices take place at the Susan Auch Oval situated between the Sargent Park arena (where we do our indoor skating) and the Cindy Klassen Rec Centre (at the corner of Sargent Ave and Wall Street).
While we skate outdoors, we will meet in Club Room 4 at the Cindy Klassen Rec Centre. Parking for the Centre is accessed from Sargent Avenue. After you enter the Centre through the front doors, stay to the right of the registration desk and follow the signs to the restaurant and viewing area. Keep going toward the back (north side) of the building, there you will find another hallway. Our club room is down that hall (last one on the right).
The other Speed Skating clubs and the Provincial team also use the Oval, so there will be a lot more skaters at the Centre and out on the ice.
When the temperature drops below -30, we will be doing dryland training. On those days bring your gym gear and a yoga mat or beach towel to the club room. Don’t forget to bring your water bottle.