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According to the rules of the International Skating Union, a standard track should be either 400 m or 333 m long; 400 m is the standard used for all major competitions. Tracks of other, non-standard lengths, such 200 or 250 m, are also in use in some places for training and/or smaller local competitions. On standard tracks, the curves have a radius of 25?26 m in the inner lane, and each lane is 3?4 m wide. All races are held in pairs, for which two lanes on the track are used. Skaters wear bands around their upper arm to identify which lane they started in. The colors are white for inner lane and red for outer lane. At the back straight, the skaters switch lanes, which causes them both to cover the same distance per lap. When both skaters emerge from the corner at the exact same time, the person currently in the inner lane will have to let the outer lane pass in front of him.


Speed Skating is an individual sport where competitors race on ice skates, for varying distances around a long, oval-shaped track. The competitor that finishes a race first is the winner. Speed skating is a competitive Olympic sport where competitors are timed while traveling a set distance. Speed skaters reach speeds upwards of 60 km/h, or 37 mph during short distance runs. Skaters race on a two-lane oval similar in dimension to an outdoor athletics track. Speed skating competitions can be held in several formats including allround, sprint championships, single distances, team pursuit, and marathon.


Organized races on ice skates first developed in the 19th century. Norwegian clubs hosted competitions from 1863, with races in the town of Christiania drawing five-digit crowds. At the 1914 Olympic Congress, the delegates agreed to include long track speed skating in the 1916 Olympics, after figure skating was featured in the 1908 Olympics. However, World War I put an end to the plans of Olympic competition, and it wasn't until the winter sports week in Chamonix in 1924 ? retrospectively awarded Olympic status ? that ice speed skating reached the Olympic program. Charles Jewtraw from Lake Placid, New York won the first Olympic gold medal. Norwegian and Finnish skaters won all the gold medals in World Championships between the world wars, with Latvians and Austrians visiting the podium in the European Championships. At the time, North American races were usually conducted packstyle, similar to the marathon races in the Netherlands, but the Olympic races were to be held over the four ISU-approved distances. The ISU approved the suggestion that the 1932 Olympic speed skating competitions should be held as packstyle races, and Americans won all four gold medals. Canada won five medals, all silver and bronze. Norwegians, Swedes, Finns and Japanese skating leaders protested to the USOC, condemning the manner of competition, and expressing the wish that mass start races were never to be held again at the Olympics. However, ISU adopted the short track speed skating branch, with mass start races on shorter tracks, in 1967, arranged international competitions from 1976, and brought them back to the Olympics in 1992.