Speed Skating: Technical Development & Professionalism
Although, Speed Skating has a long history and has been into existence for more than a millennium, the game has seen tremendous technical developments in the past 40 years.
From using bones attached to the shoes to skate on the frozen river/canal to using a skating shoes made of high-quality aluminum (used in aircraft) with options to be molded to fit to the feet appropriately is a big journey and shows the development it took. Skaters used frozen river or canals for speed skating before the invention & usage of artificial ice on the track. The Winter Olympics held in 1960 witnessed the artificial ice track for the first time in Speed Skating history and that day onwards, the game is totally changed with paced popularity and rapidly growing skating enthusiasts. The Olympic Games in 1956 on Lake Misurina was the last to be organized on natural ice.
With improvements in technology, the skating suits were also undergone huge changes to add values to the skaters in terms of ease and safety measures. Skating suits are designed keeping the aerodynamics in mind to allow skaters a better control & hence achieving higher speed on the tracks. Helmets were introduced to safety gears instead of skating suits along with a head cap for adding more comfort to the skaters. As the Speed Skating evolved, so the tracks and race formats. The skates have improved significantly during the course and it is modified to maintain balance and control during high-speed skating.
Fiberglass is used to make boots for allowing molding to the shape of the foot and designed with same sized blades with more rockers and inclined to the left that helps skaters in taking a turn comfortably. There are many safety gears added including helmets, patches for protecting various body parts, Gloves etc.
Speed Skating had officially gained international stature and recognition around 1970s after the foundation of the European Professional League in 1972. This team had members, who have been the best skaters of that time, from Norway, Germany & Sweden. The foundation of International Skating Union had changed the image of Speed Skating in the sports arena and game became more organized thereafter because of guidelines, rules, defined formats of the games were introduced.
And, finally, after entering back to the Olympic Games in 1992, Speed Skating has gained the importance & popularity at par with other international sports.