With six Ladies’ and six Men’s Speed Skating Events at the Olympics, Speed Skating is one of the world’s most medalled Olympic winter sports, but the race to the podium is high-paced; a hundredth of a second can separate gold from silver.
All individual distances except 2x500m are organized in a single race format.
The final results for the 500 metres are based on the total time of two 500-metre races. Each skater has a different starting lane in the two races. The two 500-metre races will be skated on the same day.
The distances will be run in the following order: 5000m Men, 3000m Ladies, 500m Men, 500m Ladies, 1000m Men, 1000m Ladies, 1500m Men, 1500m Ladies, 10,000m Men, 5000m Ladies.
On Feb. 26 and 27 the Team Pursuit will be skated for both Ladies and Men. The first day’s program will include the quarterfinals for both ladies and men and the semifinals for men. The second day will stage the semifinals for ladies and all finals (medal races and classification races).
The competition is run in a bracket format: the winner of the four quarterfinal races will advance to the semifinals, the two fastest losers will race in final C for 5th and 6th places, and the two slower losers will race in final D for 7th and 8th places. The winners of the semifinals will race in the gold medal race, and the losers of the semifinals in the bronze medal race.
Much is expected of Sven Kramer on the longest distances and in the team pursuit. On the 5000m, he will be the first of the top favourites to skate, which will give Bob de Jong, Enrico Fabris and in the final pair Håvard Bøkko and Chad Hedrick the advantage of knowing the time to beat.
Shani Davis is the favourite to win the 1000m and the 1500m. On the 500m, home favourite Jeremy Wotherspoon could finish his career with the gold that he lacks. It will not be easy with Koreans Kyou-Hyuk Lee and Kang-Seok Lee and Japan’s Keiichiro Nagashima in the field, and also Joji Kato (JPN), Tucker Fredricks (USA) and Mika Poutala (FIN) know how to win this distance. In the team pursuit the Dutch and US men will try to prevent Italy from successfully defending their title.
In the ladies’ field, world record holder Jenny Wolf has won most in the past four years, but expects stiff competition from Beixing Wang (CHN) and Sang-Hwa Lee (KOR). The Canadian ladies are strong from 1000 to 3000 meters with Christine Nesbitt and Kristina Groves and Clara Hughes is defending her 5000m title. Also Cindy Klassen (5 medals in Turin) will compete after having surgery on both knees. They are hence the favourites for the team pursuit. Martina Sábliková has been the strongest in the longest distances. Stephanie Beckert is the only person who has been able to beat her this season.
Ireen Wüst can sometimes surprise, as the last Olympic champion on the 3000. The qualification of Catrine Grage from Denmark is noteworthy. There have been few Danish skaters in history, but Grage qualified directly for both 3000 and 5000m.
Medal Event Schedule:
Feb 13 Saturday: Men 5,000m
Feb 14 Sunday : Ladies 3,000m
Feb 15 Monday: Men 500m
Feb 16 Tuesday: Ladies 500m
Feb 17 Wednesday: Men 1,000m
Feb 18 Thursday: Ladies 1,000m
Feb 20 Saturday: Men 1,500m
Feb 21 Sunday: Ladies 1,500m
Feb 23 Tuesday: Men 10,000m
Feb 24 Wednesday: Ladies 5,000m
Feb 27 Saturday: Ladies and Men’s Team Pursuit