|Long Track Speed Skating Strategy:
There are currently five different events in the long track speed skating, ranging in distances from sprint to marathon:
- 500, 1,000, 1,500, 5,000, and 10,000m for men
- 500, 1,000, 1,500, 3,000, and 5,000m for women
Racing in pairs, counterclockwise, on two lanes of a 400m oval track, 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 skaters race against the clock and are given points based on his or her performance time over a given distance. After adding each skater's points for the four distances raced, the skater with the fewest points is the overall winner..
A lap counter located near the finish line lets skaters know how many laps remain. The finish time is determined when the blade of the skate crosses the photo-beam located on the surface of the ice at the finish line. In case of disputes, a photofinish camera records the action at the finish line to the nearest thousandth of a second. To put this in perspective, about a thousand of these tiny increments of time pass in the second or so it takes to say “Olympic speed skating”.
Eric Heiden and Dan Jansen are the two skaters that really put U. S. men's speed skating on the map.
- Heiden won five gold medals, all of them coming at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
- Despite his immense talent, Jansen managed to win just one gold medal during Olympic competition; however, the fact that it came in a record-setting performance after falling twice in 1992 on the same day his sister died and then tumbling again in 1994 made Americans thrilled to see him finally win.
What the judges look for in long track speed skating:
- Skaters are allowed only one false start before they are disqualified
- They are not allowed to skate inside their individual lane markers
- The inside skate may cross the lane line when entering a corner, providing the gliding skate, the one bearing the skater's weight, remains outside
- Skaters must cross over on every lap
- The skater moving from the outer lane to the inner lane has the right-of-way when both skaters exit the corner simultaneously