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short track speed skating
Speed skating, said to have originated from Scandinavia, is usually done on a hockey rink (File photo credit: Wikimedia commons)

Ice skating is essentially skating on ice – by moving the skates on the ice, one can move around the rink (or lake) either for exercise, leisure, traveling or various sports. Ice skating is a very generic term for four main types of sports – figure skating, short track skating, speed skating and ice skating. 

Figure Skating

Figure skating is a branch of ice skating where individuals, duos, or groups perform on figure skates on ice. The interesting thing about figure skating is their skates. Unlike Ice hockey, figure skates have a large set of jagged “teeth” in the front of the blade called toe picks. These are generally used for jumping and not for spins. 

The term "professional" in skating refers not to skill level but competitive status. Figure skaters competing at the highest levels of international competition are not "professional" skaters. 

Figure skates
A picture depicting the blades used for figure skating (file photo credit: wikimedia commons)

Speed Skating

Speed skating is said to originate from Scandinavia, Northern Europe and the Netherlands. According to the history books, the natives added bones to their shoes so that they could travel accross frozen rivers, canals and lakes with ease. It wasn’t until the 16th century, that people started thinking of skating as fun. This is the origin of the sporting we know today. 

Speed skating is a competitive form of ice skating in which the skaters race each other certain distance on skates. There are three main types of speed skating are long track speed skating, short track speed skating, and marathon speed skating.

Short Track Speed Skating

Short track speed skating is a form of competitive ice speed skating. Short track speed skating takes place on a smaller rink than speed skating. Distances in short track skating are generally shorter than those in long-track racing. 

All short track skaters are required to have speed skates, a spandex skin suit (made of kevlar and is  cut proof), a protective helmet, protective eyewear with strap, hard shin pads, specific skating gloves, knee pads (in suit), neck guard (bib style) and ankle protection. 

Crossing the track of another skater while changing his or her own lane, is grounds for disqualification. Two false starts is also grounds for disqualification. Although this form of speed skating is newer, it is becoming more popular that long track skating primarily because it is done on a hockey rink.  South Korea has been the dominant nation in this sport, winning 17 Olympic gold medals.

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