January 02, 2023 | at the FISU Winter University Games
The James C. Sheffield Olympic Ice Rink will be the centerpiece of the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, starting on January 12. This iconic location in the heart of Lake Placid has historically been the center of the speed skating world, hosting the sport at the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics and the 1972 FISU World University Games. This included hosting an incredible performance by American Eric Heiden with five gold medals in 1980.
The sport has evolved significantly since Heiden’s time and since its beginnings over 1,000 years ago. At that time, blades of animal bone or rib bone were polished and combined with footwear to make the original skates. They were prominent in the Netherlands, Finland, and other Scandinavian countries, as ice skating was largely a means of transportation at the time, unlike the recreation for which it exists today.
With the development of skating, the double-edged blade, created by the Dutch in the early 16th century, made the use of poles to propel the skater no longer necessary. The ice skating club was founded in Edinburgh in 1642 as the first known in the world. More than a century later, the first recorded race took place over a distance of 26 km in East Anglia, in a region called the Fens, on February 4, 1763.
Roller technology development continued, including the development of all-steel skates in 1850 by American E. W. Bushnell and more recently the clap skate. This newer innovation was introduced in 1996 by skaters from the Netherlands and features a toe hinge to keep the blade on the ice longer and lengthen the skater’s stride. Multiple world records were set during the 1998 Olympic skating debut in Nagano.
January 15 is the opening day of the Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games speed skating competition. Over six days, some of the fastest men and women in the world will compete in the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, mass start, mixed team and team pursuit relay. In addition, women will compete over a distance of 3000m and men over 5000m. At the historic skating oval, known for records and great performances, there will be more to come in Lake Placid in the coming weeks. More information on speed skating at the 2023 FISU Games in Lake Placid can be found here here.
The following references and articles were used in creating this story: https://www.nbcolympics.com/news/speed-skating-101-olympic-historyNBC Olympics; Speed ??skating | History, rules and facts | BritannicaBritannica Encyclopedia; Speed ??skating | Canadian EncyclopediaCanadian Encyclopedia; Speed ??Skating History – WUC Speed ??Skating (wucspeedskating2022.com)FISU Academic Speed ??Skating World Championships