One fact about speed skating is that it has categories such as long-track, short-track and marathon speed skating. Speed skating goes back to Scandinavia and Europe and was thought to have originated as a mode of transportation between villages.
Although speed skating was likely around for at least a century before, the first official speed skating race was not until 1676 in the Netherlands. The sport did not gain popularity in North America until the 1850s, and by the 20th century, ice skating and speed skating had become major sports.
Long-track speed skating would have been included in the cancelled 1918 Olympic games, but instead it did not debut until 1924. Women's competitions did not occur until the 1930s, and even then it was only a demonstration sport until the 1960 games. The Olympic Committee accepted short-track speed skating in 1992.
Some differences between long-track and short-track skating include that there are only two skaters on the ice for long-track skating. Skaters only change lanes once per lap. Short-track skating allows the skaters to change lanes, as long as they do not impede another skater. Short-track skaters compete on a hockey rink, while long-track skaters use a specialized rink.
Some famous recreational speed skaters include Marie Antoinette and Napoleon III.