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Sport of racing on ice skates. The blade of the speed skate is longer and thinner than that of the hockey or figure skate. Two types of track are used in international competition. The long track is a 400-m (about one-quarter mile) flattened oval (straight sides and curved ends) on which two skaters race simultaneously. In long track the race is against the clock rather than the opponent. The short track, a more recent development, is a 111-m (364-ft) oval on which four to six skaters race during each heat. Short track is a race to the finish line. Long-track speed skating was included in the first Winter Olympics in 1924; short-track skating was added in 1992.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on speed skating, visit Britannica.com.