Speed skating is one of the most popular sports for both viewers and bettors at the Winter Olympics. How does speed skating work and who has the best chance of winning a medal at PyeongChang 2018? Read on to find out.
There are multiple variants and disciplines within the sport of speed skating, each of which requires certain attributes from competitors (and knowledge from bettors) in order to be successful. With 22 separate speed skating medal events and PyeongChang 2018, there’s plenty to learn for anyone new to the sport.
How does Winter Olympic speed skating work?
Speed skating is split into two distinct event types - short track and long track. As the names suggest, the main difference between these two is the length of the track used for races (short track is just over 110m while long track is 400m).
The format of the race is also different in short track and long track speed skating. Skaters race in a group during short track events but are split into separate lanes for long track and compete in pairs.
Sven Kramer is perhaps one of the most well known long track speed skaters in the history of the sport and he will be going for his third successive gold in the men’s 5,000m event (he also won silver in 2006).
The team pursuit event takes place on the longer track. Teams start on opposite sides of the track and chase (pursue) each other for eight laps - if one team catches the other the race is over or whoever has the best time after eight laps win.
The mass start is a unique event in speed skating and will be making its Winter Olympics debut at PeyongChang 2018. Up to 24 skaters compete at once over 16 laps of the 400m track with intermittent sprints at laps 4, 8 and 12 - the first three skaters across the line picking up five, three or one points.
The overall race decides the medals in the mass start event and although sprint points don’t impact the podium positions, they are used to determine the rest of the standings.
Below is the different speed skating events split by the track type (all events listed for both men and women unless stated otherwise).
PyeongChang 2018 speed skating betting
Pinnacle has available betting markets for all 22 of the speed skating medal events at PyeongChang 2018 - view all the latest Winter Olympic speed skating odds.
It is expected that the long track events have clear favourites (with split lanes eliminating the influence of “bad luck” or falls during a race). However, there are still some clear favourites for the short track events (Min Jeong Choi of South Korea being one example in the women’s 1,500m - currently priced at 1.653* against the field).
When it comes to team events, the Dutch are notoriously strong speed skaters and will be a popular bet for the long track team events. The host nation, South Korea, excel in the short track team events and will be tough to beat in the men’s and women’s relays.
Winter Olympic speed skaters to look out for
Sven Kramer is perhaps one of the most well known long track speed skaters in the history of the sport and he will be going for his third successive gold in the men’s 5,000m event (he also won silver in 2006). He will also be competing in the 10,000m and will play a key role in the team pursuit event for the Netherlands.
Speed skating is split into two distinct event types - short track and long track. As the names suggest, the main difference between these two is the length of the track used for races
Beyond the medals, Kramer’s sights will also be set on breaking the world record for the 5,000m and 10,000m events - both of which are currently held by Ted-Jan Bloeman of Canada at 6:01.86 and 12:36.30 respectively.
Nao Kodaira is the favourite in the women’s 500m (1.222*) and 1,000m long track events, while here compatriot Miho Takagi has a strong chance in the 1,500m women’s event in the same discipline (currently 1.621*).
Two notable omissions from the competition are Russia’s Viktor Ahn and Dennis Yuskov. Ahn is a six-time short track gold medallist, while Yuskov is a three-time World Champion - both athletes have failed to achieve clearance from the IOC to compete under a neutral flag.
How to inform your Winter Olympic speed skating betting
Beyond the obvious favourites in the PyeongChang 2018 speed skating betting, bettors can use this season’s ISU World Cup as a gauge of form for those competing at the Winter Olympics.
There are normally ten events throughout the ISU speed skating season but due to this year’s Winter Olympics, this number has been reduced to six (five of which have already taken place). Bettors should look beyond the ISU rankings as it is based on accumulated points and this can be skewed by several average placings in multiple events instead of high finishes in fewer events.
On this basis, Sverre Lunde Pederson could offer value in the men’s 1,500m event (8.520*). Kjeld Nuis’ consistency will also make him a popular choice in the same 1,500m event as Lunde Pederson as well as the 1,000m event.
Analysing the ISU form also highlights an intriguing clash between another Dutchman, Kai Verbij, and Norway’s Haavard Holmefjord Lorentzen in the 500m and 1,000m long track events.
In terms of the women, the ISU results suggest Takagi and Kodaira are rightfully favourites in their respective disciplines, while Canada’s Ivanie Blondin has a solid claim for a medal in the 3,000m (9.240*) and 5,000m (5.530*) events.
Winter Olympic speed skating history
Long track speed skating was introduced into the Olympics in 1924. Since then, the Netherlands have consistently been a dominant force and are the most decorated nation in the sport’s history with 105 medals in total (35 of which are gold). Germany’s Claudia Pechstein holds the honour of being the most decorated individual with nine medals (five gold).
When it comes to team events, the Dutch are notoriously strong speed skaters and will be a popular bet for the long track team events.
The short track version of speed skating was only introduced officially in 1992 (although initially it was only two events for both men and women). South Korea and China lead the way when it comes to country medal total (42 and 30 respectively) while Korea’s Ahn Hyun-Soo and the now banned Viktor Ahn are tied on eight medals (six gold) each.
One of the most notorious moments in the history of the sport of speed skating is Steven Bradley’s story from the 2002 Salt Lake City games. Bradbury qualified for the semi-final thanks to the disqualification of an opponent and then for the final because two of his opponents falling on the final bend.
Given little chance in the final, Bradbury implemented tactics of waiting at the back in the hope that those in front of him would fall. You can watch the video below to see what happened during the 1,000m short track final at the 2002 Winter Olympics:
Now that you know how to bet on speed skating and the different markets available, you can take advantage of Pinnacle's unbeatable speed skating odds. Make the most of Pinnacle’s best value Winter Olympics betting odds during the 2018 Winter Olympics.