There are two disciplines within the sport of speed skating:
In short track training and racing take place on an 111m oval track – indoors in a hockey rink. Because the corners are tight and it can be difficult for skaters to maintain control, the boards must be covered by protective mats at least 20cm thick. Skaters race “mass start” with approximately 4-6 on the starting line. Strategies and tactics are very important in short track racing. Passing requires instant acceleration, agility, good balance and nerves of steel.
Another component of short track speed skating is the “Relay Race”. These normally involve four teams of four skaters per race. Each skater must take at least one turn out on the track. Rather than receive a baton, the incoming skater crouches to receive a push from behind to maintain the momentum. Relays are one of the most exciting races to watch.
Long track training and racing take place on a 400m oval either “Mass Start” or “Olympic or ISU Style”. In mass start, up to six skaters are placed on the start line and race distances based on their age class. Olympic or ISU racing takes place in pairs on two lanes of the oval. Skaters change lanes every lap in order to equalize the distance covered. Distances raced range from 500m to 10,000m. The only equipment required are skates and most often skaters wear a “skinsuit” – a tight-fitting lycra suit worn to minimize air resistance.
Long track blades are designed to go fast. They are lighter and flatter on the bottom, therefore, more efficient. You glide further and faster with each stride and skate further with less effort. Skaters travel faster than any other human does over a flat surface without mechanical assistance – at times reaching speeds of more than 45 km/h.
The Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club (SLSSC) is one of the oldest, continously operating speed skating clubs in Canada. It was formed in January, 1942, with Clarence Downey as the first coach.
The Saskatoon Lions Clubs have been sponsors of our Club since 1943. We have recently celebrated our 60th Anniversary.