The clap skate caused a Speed Skating revolution in 1997. In the 1997/98 Speed Skating season nine out of ten world records in both the men's and women's events were broken thanks to the innovation. But it wasn't as new an idea as it seemed to be. The first patent for a clap skate was granted to one Charles Corneby in England in 1884, but somehow the idea was never put into practice in international competition.
Getting to the top is not easy, staying there is even more difficult. After winning Olympic 500m Speed Skating gold, the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships title and the 500m as well as the overall ISU World Cup Speed Skating in 2018 Håvard Lorentzen (NOR) was struggling to get back to winning ways last season.
Norway and the Netherlands dominated Speed Skating in the 1970s, but the most significant innovator in the sport during that era came from Switzerland. Franz Krienbühl (SUI) was the first to enter the Speed Skating rink in a one-piece skin suit in 1974.
While Europe is suffering from the August heat, Bart Swings (BEL) is already looking forward to the winter. After having won three world titles and seven medals in total at the World Roller Games in Barcelona, the Belgian skating champion switched from wheels to blades by the end of July already.
Arguably the best 1000m skater of her generation, Christine Nesbitt (CAN) was inducted to the Olympic Oval Hall of Champions during the 2019 ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships in Calgary. In 2017 she had already been inducted in Canada's Speed Skating Hall of Fame. The Melbourne born Canadian celebrated her biggest success on home soil at the Richmond Olympic Oval at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, when she took gold in her signature race.
Inline skating and ice skating are similar at first sight. Many Speed Skating champions also compete in inline competitions and the other way around. Yet, apart from the obvious differences between wheels on tarmac and blades on ice, the two sports require different techniques. Combining inline and ice is by no means easy.
As an Afro-American kid form the south side of Chicago, Shani Davis entered the international Speed Skating world as an exception in the early 2000s. In a prolific career over the course of more than fifteen years the 36-year-old American collected two Olympic titles, eleven ISU World Speed Skating titles, and 58 ISU World Cup Speed Skating wins. With 13,331 points he tops the all-time ranking in career ISU World Cup Speed Skating points.
The ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships is In Focus. Have a look at the top pictures of some of the fastest athletes out there.
The most successful Dutch Olympian of all-time was competing at the ISU European Speed Skating Championships in Collalbo, only a few days after having buried her best friend and 2008 ISU World Allround Speed Skating Champion Paulien van Deutekom. Wüst was devastated, but in all her grief and despair she knew that there was only one thing she could do.
Two-time Olympic Champion Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR) has announced her retirement from Speed Skating at an emotional press conference in Seoul on May 16, 2019. The 30-year-old Korean sprinter suffered from a persistent chronic knee injury, which has been hampering her for years already. With 36.36 seconds Lee is the current world record holder in the ladies' 500m.
Nao Kodaira (JPN) started the 2018/19 Speed Skating season as the lady to beat in the 500m, but Vanessa Herzog (AUT) was up for the challenge. The Japanese sprint queen won the first four 500m races of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating season on home soil in Obihiro and Tomakomai, with her Austrian challenger coming second in all four races. Kodaira and Herzog were gearing up for a season long fascinating battle in the shortest distance.
At age twenty Tingyu Gao (CHN) claimed bronze in the 500m at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and became the first Chinese man to win an Olympic medal in Speed Skating. Although he still has a long career ahead of him, the youngster aims to be at the top of his game for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games and takes a philosophical approach: "Success is a journey, not a destination."