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Racing on Skates

Speed skating has traditionally been taught by allowing skaters of all ages to race against each other.  A speed skater may takes years to master the techniques required to race efficiently but the instinct to race on skates seems to happen soon after an individual finds a pair of skates that fit.

For many years Ontario’s youngest skaters were provided virtually the same opportunity to compete as the older, more mature athletes.  This year OSSA will be working with the other branches from across Canada, under the leadership of Speed Skating Canada, to introduce developmentally appropriate programs and competitions for speed skaters of all ages.

The principles of the Long Term Participant and Athlete Development (LTPAD) program will begin to have an impact on the programs and competitions being organized for Ontario skaters, especially for the younger skaters.  OSSA works with Ontario clubs to provide a competition schedule and format that meets the needs of its members so the changes recommended by LTPAD will implemented gradually over the coming seasons.  The goal will be to improve Ontario’s current system of skater development without losing the great incentives for skater and club development provided by the existing competition format.

Competition Formats

Speed Skating Competitions are organized in three distinctly different formats.

Short Track Competitions are held on arena ice pads that vary in size.  The skaters race on either a 111 metre track or a 100 metre track.  The skaters compete in groups of 4 or 5 and results are primarily based on the skater’s placement in each race although most races also record the skaters times.

Long Track Competitions are typically held on a 400 metre oval, although other sized ovals have been used to stage competitions.  In the Mass Start format the skaters start and race together so that both placement in the race as well as the skater’s time for the distance skated are recorded.  In the Olympic Style format the skaters compete in pairs, each skater racing in their own lane, switching from the inner to the outer lane as the race progressed so that at the end of each race the skater has a time for skating exactly the same distance.

Marathon speed skating takes place in a variety of locations and over a range of distances.  The races courses are typically set out on lakes or canals so that the condition of the natural ice and the weather on the day of the event normally plays an important role in the challenge faced by the skaters.  Marathons normally start with a mass start and skaters race a variety of distances over the same course.