Updated 09/12/2006

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Learn about Speedskating


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Speed skating is a high speed sport, and a helmet is absolutely essential for anyone participating. Hockey helmets can be used by Short Track skaters as they offer good impact protection, however, most skaters however opt for a helmet espeically designed for speed skating. These helmets are light and protective while providing good visibilty for the skater when in skating position.

Neck Guard
A neck protector is worn to keep the neck area protected from a skate blade in a fall. Hockey neck guards are generally used. They must be the bib type, to cover the neck and upper chest, and made out of kevlar for cut resistance. Tucked under the skinsuit they stay in place well and are comfortable to wear as long as the appropriate size for the skater is worn.

Goggles are necessary to protect your eyes from ice chips as well as the wind.

Gloves are required to prevent cuts to the fingers and abrasions to the hands when falling. The glove must be made of leather or cut resistant nylon. Short Track skaters often place a hand on the ice inside the corner to help them hold the corner. Bare skin on the ice would be friction burnt and fingers would be susceptible to cuts if hit by a blade. Beginners may be able to use utility gloves to protect their hands.

Shin Guards
Shin guards, such as those used in soccer are used to protect the lower leg from skate blades. The plastic type are popular and are usually just slipped under the skinsuit and over the Shin, The snugness of the suit holds them solidly in place.

Knee Pads
Knee pads are used to protect the skater's knees in a fall. There are many different models on the market and most skaters choose the model that they feel offers the best comfort and protection. Trace makes a model specifically for speed skating, having a double strap back with the middle of the back open to allow the knee to bend more easily in skating position. The proper size must be purchased for the skater so that it will stay in position over the knee.

For practice, skaters need to wear long sleeved shirts and pants in order to protect themselves in a fall, as well as to keep warm. A sweatshirt or similar long shirt will work.

A skinsuit is used while racing. It is usually made of spandex and snug fitting to help the skater be as aerodynamic as possible, with nothing loose to pick up the wind. The colors of the suit also let others know which club you skate with.

Skaters first starting out in the sport often use hockey skates until they are sure that they like the sport and are going to stay in it. Those who continue in the sport will need to purchase speed skates, where the boot and the blade are purchased separately. The construction of the skate is different depending on if you want to focus on short or long track skating.

The short track boot is a heavier boot meant for stability and durability, because the short-tracker takes tighter corners and thus has higher stress placed on it. Long track skates are softer and lower cut to facilitate ankle movement.

The blade on a short track skate is thicker than a long track skate blade, so that it can tight corners. Long track skaters also have the option of clap skates, where the heel of the boot is not bound to the skate. This type of mounting increases the amount of time the blade is in contact with the ice, allowing for increased speed.


  Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008 Charles P. Bridgman, All rights reserved.