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Monday , June 26 , 2017
About  >  Speed skating  >  Speed skating overview

The following pages on the Speed Skating Canada website provide a comprehensive overview of the sport of speed skating in Canada and around the world.

In the Beginning

Short Track History

Long Track History

Spectator Guide - Long Track

Spectator Guide - Short Track

True Sport Principles

FAQs

What is speed skating?

What is the difference between short track and long track speed skating?

Who can speed skate?

How can I learn to speed skate?

What types of skates are used for speed skating?

Where can I buy equipment? Can I rent skates?

What is speed skating?

Speed skating is a competitive form of ice skating in which the competitors race each other in traveling a certain distance on skates. Types of speed skating are long track speed skating, short track speed skating, and marathon speed skating.

Speed skating is always done counter-clockwise, with only left hand turns. Speed skating blades are specifically adapted for turning left, and will not easily navigate a right hand turn.

What is the difference between short track and long track speed skating?

Short track speed skating is done indoors on regular arena ice. The international competition track is 111.12 metres. Long track speed skating is done indoors or outdoors on an oval track that is usually 400 metres. Some types of long track events may be done on longer or shorter tracks.

Long track events can be either “mass start” with multiple skaters on a single track, or “Olympic style” with two skaters in separate lanes. Short track events are all mass start. In Olympic style competition, the races are “time trials”, meaning that the skater with the fastest time wins. In mass start events, there are usually heats and finals, and the skater who comes first in the final wins, even though they may not have the fastest recorded time.

Internationally, long track speed skating is referred to only as speed skating, while short track is referred to as short track speed skating.

Who can speed skate?

Anyone can speed skate. Recreational speed skaters skate for fun and fitness, but competitive opportunities are available to skaters of all ages if they are interested.

Speed skating can be a lifelong pursuit. There is an active Masters skating community in Canada and around the world.

How can I learn to speed skate?

Speed skating clubs across Canada provide training in speed skating. Speed Skating Canada has a club finder on its web site.

There are three speed skating clubs Halifax Regional Municipality area, the Halifax Regional Speed Skating Club, the Speedy Kids Oval Program Society, and the Nova Scotia Masters Speed Skating Club.  Outside the HRM, there are the Valley Speed Skating Club, and the Northside Blades Speed Skating Club.

In addition, there are Learn to Speed Skate sessions on the Emera Oval in the winter.

What types of skates are used for speed skating?

Competitive speed skaters generally use either a short track boot with a detachable fixed short track blade, or a long track boot with either a detachable fixed long track blade or a detachable klap blade. The boots are often fully or partially moulded from materials such as Kevlar or fibreglass. Long track boots are lower than short track boots, and provide greater ankle flexibility, while short track boots provide greater ankle support for the tighter short track turns.

Both long track and short track blades are rockered. They are also usually adapted for left hand turns by bending the blade, and setting it on the boot with an offset. The blades vary in length depending on the size of the skater. The most common lengths would be between 15 and 17 inches. The long blade creates the typical long gliding stride of the speed skater, but also necessitates the use of crossover strides for turning.

Recreational speed skaters sometime use skates with permanently attached blades. Recreational and marathon skaters also sometimes use Nordic skates, which consist of a cross country ski boot with a clip on blade. These are generally designed for use on rougher natural ice surfaces.

See this link for a good technical article on speed skating blades.

Where can I buy equipment? Can I rent skates?

There are two suppliers of speed skates in the HRM.  Both racing and recreational speed skates are available at The Trail Shop.  Sportwheels in Sackville sells recreational speed skates.

Speed skating clubs generally have a small inventory of speed skates available for rental by new members.

Beginning in the 2013-2014 season, Speed Skate Nova Scotia is making a small inventory of speed skates available at the Emera Oval through the HRM skate rental program.