World Single Distance Championships

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The World Single Distance Championships are a series of speed skating competitions organised by the International Skating Union.


Since the late 19th century, speed skating championships were always decided by racing multiple distances – four different distances for the allround championships, and two different distances (which have to be skated twice) for sprint championships. However, the speed skating events at the Olympic Games were always individual distances, no medals are awarded for a combined event (the only exception being the 1924 Winter Olympics).

Towards the end of the 20th century, skaters started to specialize and it became rare that a skater was able to dominate both the short and the long distances. Perhaps the last skater able to do so was Eric Heiden, who won all five distances at the 1980 Winter Olympics. As a consequence of this specialization, the difference between the Olympic Games and the regular championships, and the popularity of both the Speed skating World Cup and Single Distance Championships held nationally in several countries, the International Skating Union decided to organise the World Single Distance Championships. Starting in 1996, this originally was an annual event, but in 1998 it became clear that having World Single Distance Championships and the Single Distance Championships as held at the Winter Olympics during the same year was too much, so since 1999, the World Single Distance Championships are no longer held in (Winter) Olympic years.


Note that the 500 m is raced twice to counteract any benefits from starting in the inner lane. This is because the skaters switch lanes for each 400 m lap, so a skater using the inner lane on the first 100 m would have a much lower speed going into that inner lane – and can thus negotiate it more easily. Therefore, each skater will start once in the inner lane, and once in the outer lane. The winner is the skater with the least combined time.

The skaters compete in the following distances:


For medal winners, see World Single Distance Championships for Men.


For medal winners, see World Single Distance Championships for Women.


ISU Single Distance Championships
Year City Country Note
1996 Hamar Norway
1997 Warsaw Poland
1998 Calgary Canada
1999 Heerenveen Netherlands
2000 Nagano Japan
2001 Salt Lake City United States
2003 Berlin Germany
2004 Seoul South Korea
2005 Inzell Germany
2007 Salt Lake City United States
2008 Nagano Japan
2009 Vancouver Canada
2011 Inzell Germany
2012 Heerenveen Netherlands
2013 Sochi Russia
2015 Heerenveen Netherlands
2016 Kolomna Russia
2017 Gangneung South Korea

Medal summary[edit]

The medal table by nations is the total number of the 14 distances (men and women) at all of the 18 championships (1996–2017). The individual tables are about the seven distances by gender.