When you ask anyone about their favorite Winter Olympics sport, most people will probably tell you all about figure skating. Speed skating might not be the most popular ice sport, but it certainly is an impressive one. However, questions remain, such as: how fast do short track speed skaters go? While 31 miles per hour is considered top speed, according to the Olympics’ official site, speed skaters on average skate at 30 miles per hour. (If you grew up in a small town like me, you know that speed limits tend to run lower than that.)
Seeing as the short track is a 111.2 meter-long oval, the skaters have to make sharp turns — quickly. Olympic teams are divided into men’s and women’s teams, and team members compete in 500m (4 1/2 laps) races, 1000m (9 laps) races, and 1500m (13 1/2 laps) races. According to Sports Illustrated, in the 500m race, skaters’ starting sprints become crucial to their overall race time.
U.S. skater and fan-favorite, Maame Biney, excels at starting the race with a bolt of speed. The 17-year-old has her eye on the gold medal, and she’s already setting records as the first Black woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic short track speed skating team. During the 2018 Winter Olympics, you won’t want to miss Biney’s races.
The speed skating races go by fast, so make sure you’re paying attention.
If you blink, you might miss them. The women’s world record for the 500m race — which Biney will compete in — is 42.335 seconds. Elise Christie of the U.K. set that record in 2016.
On the other hand, long track speed skating — aka just “speed skating” — consists of a 400 meter-long race track. Rather than skate multiple laps, the long track speed skaters just race one time around.
Speed skating superstar Apolo Ohno races in the short track competition.
He raced in the 500m, 1000m, and 1500m races. And though he’s retired, he’ll be at the Pyeongchang races.
The first speed skating event takes place on Saturday, February 10th, with the women’s 3,000 meter race. Make sure to check it out. Later, on February 18th, Biney will compete in the women’s 500 meter race.
It’s bound to be intense. You won’t want to miss it.