The Olympics Games present four skating competitions: men’s singles, women’s singles, mixed couples, and professional ice dancing. Single skating events have two sections: a short program and free skating. The short program comprises of eight compulsory elements, including jumping variations and spins. For free skating, skaters perform an original arrangement of techniques to the music of their choice. As with the singles, the pairs event also has a short program section and a free skating section. The couple expected to work as one unit, showing not just technical skill, but also harmony and grace.
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Ice dancing, on the other hand, is more like ballroom dancing, and the emphasis in this particular competition is on performing the complicated steps in time with the music. The ice dancing event has three sections compulsory, original, and free dances. In compulsory dancing, the couple performs two pre-determined dances. Original dances must follow specified rhythms, though the pair are allowed to choose their music. In the free dancing section, the couple can express themselves freely when interpreting their chosen music.
U.S. speed skater Charles Jewtraw became the first person to win a gold medal in any Winter Olympic competition when he won the 500-meters (545-yd) speed skating race at Chamonix, France, in 1924.
Apolo Ohno has proved himself one of the brightest stars in the rapidly growing sport of short track speed skating. Apolo, Born in 1982 and raised in Seattle, Washington, had risen quickly to become both an Olympic gold medalist and a World Cup winner—not bad for someone who began speed skating only in 1995 when he was thirteen. An immensely powerful athlete, Apolo became the youngest American to win a World Cup event at the age of seventeen. He was the 1,500-m (1,640 yds) gold medal winner at the 2002 Olympics and overall champion at the 2001 World Cup.
Speed skating became part of the first Winter Olympics in 1924, though women’s events were not held until 1960. At the Olympics, the longer form of speed skating consists of ten events. These are the 500 meters (545 yd), 1,000 meters (1,090 yd), 1,500 meters (1,640 yd), and 5,000 meters (5,470 yd) for both men and women, plus the 3,000 meters (3,280 yd) for women and the grueling 10,000 meters (10,940 yd) for men. The distances are skated once, except for the two 500-meter (545-yd) events, which skated twice. In all events, the competitor’s race in pairs against the clock, with their times recorded down to one-hundred of a second. In the case of the 500-meter (545- yd) events, the skater’s two times count toward the final result.
The athletes skate in the counterclockwise direction around the course, and markers separate each lane. They must change lanes during each lap to make sure that they skate the same distance. It is done at the crossover point in the backstretch, the skater crossing the outer lane to the inner lane has the right of way. The skater starting in the inner track wears a white armband, and starting in the outer lane wears a red one. Ice Skaters can be disqualified for having two false starts; for crossing the lane markers while in the bends; for failing to change lanes in the crossing area; and for interfering with an opponent when changing lanes.
Short track speed skating first emerged at the 1992 Winter Olympics, and, since then, speed skaters have preferred to specialize in long or short tracks. The critical difference with short track events is that competitors race against each other, not against the clock, as in the longer form. This means that racing tactics and techniques come into play. Four skaters take part at a time, and those coming in first and second place go on to the next round.
U.S. speed skater Eric Heiden made history at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games when he became the first Olympian to earn five individual gold medals, which reduced the number of entrants to the final when the law became simple; the first to cross the finish line was the winner — as with track sports, winning time is less important than finishing first.
Short track speed skating at the Olympics Games comprises of eight competitions. Men and women compete in the 500-metre(545-yd), 1,000-metre (1,090-yd) and 1,500-metre (1,640-yd) distances, while there is a 5,000-metre (5,470-yd) relay for people and a 3,000-metre (3,280-yd) relay for women. The men’s and women’s short-track relays are two-day competitions made up of a semi-final and a final. Eight teams are split into two heats of four. The top two teams will go to the final of each semi-final.
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