Speed skaters jostle for pole position in 2018
Gangneung in Gangwon-do Province, one of the three host cities for next year's PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, alongside Pyeongchang and Jeongseon, will be bringing to the ice some of the thrills of speed skating.
With just one year to go until the Olympic opening ceremony, the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships, a test event for the Olympics, will kick off this month on Feb. 9 at the Gangneung Oval. Speed skaters from around the world will be able to check out the ice quality in advance, as well as learn what to expect during the real competition next year.
A total of 317 Olympians from 24 countries will compete in 14 events, including 500-meter, 1,000- meter, 1,500-meter, 5,000-meter races, for both men and women, as well as 3,000-meter races for women only and 10,000-meter races for men only. There will be Team Pursuit and Mass Start races for both men and women, too. The Mass Start race, in particular, will be included for the first time in the 2018 Olympic Games. In the Mass Start event, a long line of skaters lines up at the starting track and makes a dash at the starting gun. The skaters then race freely in any lane to reach the finish line as fast as they can.
Among the competitors in the upcoming race are Sven Kramer of the Netherlands, one of the world's top long-distance speed skaters, Shani Davis of the U.S., a world record holder in the men's 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter events, and Yu Jing of China, who's ranked as world's No. 1 female 500-meter speed skater.
Among the Korean athletes, there's Lee Sang-hwa, who's looking forward to winning her third gold medal following medals in Vancouver and Sochi, and Lee Seung-hoon, who set a new world record in the men's 10,000-meter race in Vancouver.
"We see this test event as an opportunity to examine how far preparations for the Olympic Games have gotten in the host city, as well as to enhance our operational capabilities to make it as successful as possible," said PyeongChang Organizing Committee President Lee Hee-beom.