Speed skating is a sport that has been contested at the Winter Olympic Games since the inaugural Games in 1924. Events held at the first Winter Olympics included the men's 500-metre, 1500-metre, 5000-metre, and 10000-metre races. Points from the four races were combined and counted towards the all-round event, which was dropped following the 1924 Olympics. Speed skating events for women were first held at the 1932 Winter Olympics, as a demonstration sport. The first official women's events were held in 1960 in the 500-metre, 1000-metre, 1500-metre, and 3000-metre distances. The men's 1000-metre event was added in 1976 and the women's 5000-metre event was added in 1988. All 10 events have been held at every Olympic Games since, and a team pursuit event for both genders was added in 2006, for a total of 12 medal events.
German Claudia Pechstein has won nine medals—five gold, two silver, and two bronze—more than any other speed skater at the Olympics. She is also one of four Winter Olympians to win medals at five straight Olympics.Lidiya Skoblikova, who represented the Soviet Union, is one of two female Winter Olympians to win six gold medals (cross-country skier Lyubov Yegorova is the other). At the 1924 Winter Olympics, Finn Clas Thunberg became the first athlete to win two or more gold medals; in 1928, he became the first speed skater to successfully defend an Olympic title. At the 1964 Games, Skoblikova won four gold medals and became the first athlete to win a gold in every available event. The feat was repeated in 1980 by American Eric Heiden, who won five golds, the most that any Winter Olympian has won at one edition of the Games. In 2006, Canadian Cindy Klassen became the only other speed skater, and one of seven Winter Olympians, to win five medals—one gold, two silver, two bronze—at a single edition of the Games. Pechstein and American Bonnie Blair are the only speed skaters to win gold in the same event three times in a row. Andrea Schöne, who won a silver medal in 1976, is the youngest female athlete in an individual event to win a medal. German Christa Rothenburger and Canadian Clara Hughes are the only medal-winning speed skaters who have also won a medal at the Summer Olympic Games, having won medals in cycling.
Dutch speed skaters have been the most successful in terms of combined medals (105), as well as gold medals (35). After the 2014 Winter Olympics, 176 gold medals, 179 silver medals and 172 bronze medals have been awarded since 1924 and have been won by speed skaters from 23 National Olympic Committees.
*The Netherlands' positions at the 2014 Winter Olympics women's 1500 meters is the first, and only, time in Olympic speed skating history that athletes from one country have taken positions 1, 2, 3 and 4 (Marrit Leenstra).