The graceful sport of Speed Skating involves two skaters racing against each other on a 400m ice rink.
The track is divided into 2 lanes, an inside lane and an outside lane. The two skaters alternate the lanes, switching in a changeover zone every lap, so that both skaters cover the same distance. Although the athletes take to the track together, they’re actually racing the clock as many athletes compete and their timings determine their the results.
The events are 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 3000m (only for women), 5000m, 10000m (only for men), Team Pursuit, and the Mass Start.
In the Team Pursuit, three skaters skate together in a team, and two teams go around the track simultaneously. The timings are recorded as the third skater crosses the line. It is 8 laps for men and 6 for women.
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The Mass Start is a little like the Points Race in Track Cycling. All the athletes race together on an open track (i.e., the lanes don’t feature). 28 skaters race 16 laps, with 4 ‘sprint’ laps in between. A sprint lap happens every 4 laps and the winners of these ‘sprints’ gain points: 5(1st), 3(2nd), 1(3rd). Here’s how this works. If the 4th lap is a sprint lap, the skaters race the first three abnormal laps, but the skater who finishes the 4th lap first wins the sprint, getting 5 points. The next skater gets 3 points, and the one after that gets 1. However, the last lap of the race is the main sprint lap and the winner of this wins the race as the points for the last lap are 60(1st), 40(2nd), 2(3rd). So, even if a skater wins all the sprints leading upto it, if they don’t finish the last lap in the top two, they can’t do better than a Bronze Medal.