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Speedskating 101

Why choose Speedskating?

Speedskating can be a life-long sport! While the speedskating community may be small, participants range in age from as young as four to over seventy years old. It is very common to see entire families participate. This involvement can transcend generations from parents-to-kids, then on to their kids. 


While achievements are generally individual, clubs allow for a team based environment that fosters supportive competition. 


Racing Age Groups:

When races are based on a skater’s age, skaters are divided into age groups based on the skater’s age on July 1 of the summer prior to the skating season.  The US Speed Skating association has the following age groups:

Junior E (Pony) - 10 years of age or younger

Junior D - 11 and 12 years of age

Junior C (also called Juvenile) - 13 and 14 years of age

Junior B (also called Junior) - 15 and 16 years of age

Junior A (also called Intermediate) - 17 and 18 years of age

Senior - 19 through 30  years of age

Masters - 31  years of age and older


Types of Speedskating

Speedskating races come in three primary styles. 


Long Track Metric Races

Long track metric competitions are what most people picture when they think of speedskating. 

In a metric race, two skaters line up on a staggered starting line, one in each lane. Skaters stay in their own lane each lap, but must change lanes at the end of that lap. Rules govern how that lane change is made. Each skater competes on their own against the clock for the fastest time.


Long Track Pack-Style Races

Long Track pack style competitions are also referred to as “mass-start”.

In a pack style race, all the skaters in a group are on the starting line at the same time. The first skater to cross the finish line wins. 


Short-Track Races

Short track speedskating can generally occurs on hockey rinks. Due to more common facilities, there are more clubs and competitions in short-track than in long-track.


As in pack style long track racing, all the skaters in a group are on the starting line at the same time. The first skater to cross the finish line wins.


What are all these acronyms and words I see and hear?

Dry Land - conditioning work that occurs, well off-ice on dry land. Cardio, strength, stretching, etc. 

Metric - what most people think of when they hear speedskating: a pair of skaters on the ice at a time in their own lane competing for best time. 

Pack - long track with a group of people skating at one time against each other


ISU - International Skating Union sport federation administering Ice Skating sports 

Heartland Series - Series of midwest based short track races 

Masters - Skaters generally over 30 years of age 

World Cup - Series of competitions organized by the ISU. Competitors earn points at each event in an effort to accumulate the most points. 

Ability Based: Skaters are grouped by their time and size, not their age. Age based events do not consider ability, skaters are simply grouped by age.

How to get started?

So, how to get started with speedskating? The Skating School at the Pettit National Ice Center offers the premier speed skating program for those who are comfortable with the basic skills of ice skating and want to go FAST on the ice! For more information, see the following link:

If you're an experienced skater, please fill out the form on the home page.

Useful links: 


Skating Organizations:

US Speedskating:

Wisconsin Speedskating Association:


North American Ovals:

Pettit National Ice Center (Milwaukee, WI) 

Guidant John Rose MN Oval (Roseville, MN)

Utah Olympic Oval (Kearns, UT)

Lake Placid Olympic Center (Lake Placid, NY)

Calgary Olympic Oval (Calgary, Alberta Canada)


Nearby Clubs: 

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