About Speed Skating

    FUN!       FAST!       EXCITING!

Speed skating is the sport of racing on ice.

It is conducted on prepared ovals to provide a safe and consistent environment for the skaters. These days, two sizes of ovals are used:
  • 400 metres : the size of a running track. Usually outdoor.
  • 111 metres or 100 metres. Usually indoor on a common rink.
Skating on 400m tracks (ovals) is referred to as long track speed skating while skating on 111m/100m tracks is referred to as short track speed skating. In the Markham Club, we engage in short track speed skating.

Short track speed skating evolved from the original outdoor long-track speed skating by using indoor arenas to make it more accessible to more people. Skaters race counterclock-wise (left turns) around a 111 metre (or 100 metre) oval marked by small rubber cones on a normal indoor ice arena.

Short-track speed skating appeals to girls and boys equally as it is an individual non-contact sport in which you perform to the best of your abilities, like running, cycling, or swimming, where speed is the operative parameter. Girls and boys train and race together for much of the time. Parents usually either skate as well, or coach, or perform club administrative functions.

Because the corners are tight and are skated at high speed, it can be difficult to maintain control. To avoid injury to skaters in the event of a fall, the boards at the edge of the ice around the corners are covered by thick pads. Likewise, skaters always wear helmets and other protection.

Speed-skating blades are long, narrow, flat (laterally) on the bottom and with a small rocker to enhance speed. Short-track boots contain a hard shell for strength and permit the blades to be offset laterally to prevent the edges of the boots from touching the ice during turns.

Canadians excel in both short track and long track speed skating at international competitions and often hold world records. Speed skaters won 50% of all Canadian medals at each of the past four Winter Olympic Games! Effective provincial and national programs help young athletes advance and train to continue to reach these high standards.

About Racing
Short-track race distances vary from 2 laps (200 metres) to 45 laps (5000 metres) depending upon the racer's age, level of ability, and type of race, with the most common distances being between 2 and 13.5 laps.

Skaters usually race four different distances during weekend provincial competitions, with each distance involving a heat and a final.

There are no set lanes after the start, so strategy and tactics are very important as a race is often won by the smartest rather than by the fastest skater. Positions can change rapidly in exciting moves, and a race can be won or lost in the final strides. Sometimes only a photofinish can reveal who won (see photo at right).

You can race at any age. The cradle class accepts toddlers, while masters in their seventies still vie for records, with every age in between. Children aged between six and eighteen years compete in age categories or in groups of similar ability.

Despite the close quarters and high speed, the rules prohibit contact between skaters and actions which impede others, and infractions will lead to disqualification by the referees. This leads to clean competition and good sportsmanship.

Skaters who are preparing for their first race meet should download and read
our booklet "Advice to Skaters at Their First Race Meet" to learn what happens
during an Ontario race meet.


World-class skaters travel continuously at over 45 km/hr.

Skate around corners leaning at angles up to 60 degrees while in close proximity to other skaters yet avoiding contact or falls.


Experience forces up to 2G during turns, like an aerobatic pilot.

Speed skating involves pure individual racing competition requiring skill, determination, strategy, and stamina in a warm atmosphere of respect and camaraderie: an excellent environment for developing personal character.

Don't want to race? Come anyway - just learn the skill and enjoy the thrilll, whatever your age or ability.

The dots show the layout of the track on an NHL-size ice surface.
The start & finish lines and the safety pads around the corners are also shown.

Markham Speed Skating Club