HOW TO GET STARTED
Check to see what club is nearest to where you live and go out to a practice. Try to call a member of the club first to see if equipment is available for you to try it out.
WHAT TO BRING
You should wear long pants and sleeves. Required items are gloves (any kind), a neck guard (hockey style will do fine), If you have a bike or a skateboard helmet, bring it, shin pads (soccer style) and skates. Most clubs will have loaner speedskates, but if you have another type skate please bring them just in case. Most clubs also will have some or all of the other required items mentioned above to loan to you. If you like speedskating and decide to continue, most clubs will ask that you buy your own gear at some point so that loaner equipment is available for other new people to try. A water bottle is also a great thing to bring with you on the ice.
A skin suit is a lycra form fitting body suit used as a uniform by a speedskater. If you decide to become a member of a club, some clubs have skin suits that you can rent for the year, while others ask that you purchase your own club suit if you so desire. Just to be clear, a skin suit IS NOT a required item. Please check with your club representative if you would like more information about them.
WHAT DOES IT COST
A new skater can join US Speedskating for a 2 month trial membership for $10. This membership does not allow for a person to compete in a racing competition, but is valid for club practices. A new skater can also sign up for a first year membership that is good for competitions for $30. Please go to webpoint.usspeedskating.org/wp/Memberships/Join.wp to sign up with US Speedskating.
A new skater must also join the Michigan Speedskating Association (MSA). Please go to the FORMS link at the MSA web site to download the form or ask your club representative for a Membership form.
Each club has their own schedule of rates and fees for each speedskating practice session. Most of them also have special deals or special rates for those who are interested in the sport, but are wary of committing to the sport full time. Again, check with a club representative for more information on ice fees.
Dryland is what speedskaters call their off ice workouts. Dryland consists of exercises that can be done off the ice the help build and develop the muscles and stamina needed to perform well in the sport. Dryland is just as important as the on ice training that skaters do. Some people would even argue that dryland is more important than on ice training for some skaters. You can find some dryland type workouts under the RESOURCES tab on the MSA web site as well.
WHAT IS SHORT TRACK?
Short Track Speedskating takes place on either a hockey rink or a slightly larger Olympic rink. One lap on a short track is 111.12 in distance. Short track is done as a pack style event and can have up to 7 competitors competing at one time in close quarters racing. Skaters start from a standing start. Races can range from 222 meters (2 laps) – 3000 meters (27 laps). Race lengths are determined by the skaters age division. Younger skaters race in the shortest distances.
WHAT IS LONG TRACK?
Long track most commonly takes place on a 400 meter track, used for Olympic events. The Petoskey club in our state has an outdoor track that is 250 meters and holds events each year. Long track races can be conducted in two different ways, pack style or metric style. Race distances vary greatly.
Pack Style – Similar to the way short track races are run, up to eight skaters start together. Skaters start from a standing start and race each other.
Metric Style – Two skaters skate at the same time, but start in different places on the track. Skaters start from a standing start but do not race each other. They race the clock for the best time for each distance.
Each year there are competitions available for all levels of skaters. There are competitions in Michigan available as well as in other states close to Michigan. For a list of Michigan competitions, see the schedule page on this web site. For out of state meets, check the event schedule at www.usspeedskating.org
A skaters age group is determined by the age of the skater as of July 1. The competitive season in most instances opens in September. Example – If your turned 10 in June, you would compete in the PONY grouping when the season opened. (See below) Boys and girls sometimes compete in the same races, but in most instances awards are separated for each gender.
Tiny Tot – 6 and under
Pee Wee – 7 and 8
Pony – 9 and 10
Midget – 11 and 12
Junior C – 13 and 14
Junior B – 15 and 16
Junior A – 17 and 18
Senior – 19 through 29
Masters begin at age 30-39 and continue in ten year increments.
AGE DIVISION MEET COMPETITIONS
Age Division Meets are meets where skaters are grouped according to their age division. (See Age Divisions above) At an age division meet there could be several people in one category and only a few in another age category. It all depends on the age of the competitors who sign up for the meet. For example – There could be 27 kids participating in the Pee Wee Division and 14 in the Midget Division.
ABILITY MEET COMPETITIONS
Ability Meets are meets where skaters are grouped according to their fastest “seed times”. If you see an entry form that asks for your 500 and 1,000 meter “seed time”, you are most likely signing up for an ability meet and will have to provide your best times at those distances. Because ability meets are based on speed, you could have a 45 year old female racing in the same grouping as a 13 year old male. It all depends on speed.
For example – Lets say that 230 people sign up for the meet, The organizers will look at all of the seed times and sort them into groups from the fastest to the slowest. Groups usually consist of up to ten skaters which will allow for two Heat races prior to the A and B Finals. The fastest ten seed times would be placed into “Group 1”, the second fastest ten seed times would be placed into “Group 2”, and so on until everyone was placed into a group.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AT MY FIRST COMPETITION?
Make sure to arrive at the event a little early and be well rested. Because most people compete in a short track event for their first meet, that is the style of meet we will describe below. If your first meet is at a long track, don’t worry as the meet will most likely be run very similar to the one described below. If you are confused about anything don’t be afraid to ask someone for help with your questions. Explain that you are at your first meet and most people will be glad to help you with anything you need to know.
REGISTRATION TABLE-HELMET COVERS-AND FORMS
The first thing you should do when you walk into the arena is visit the REGISTRATION TABLE. The registration table is usually set up in the arena lobby right in front of the main entrance doors. At the registration table you will be given any forms that you may still need to be filled out. You will be given a piece of cloth with a number on two sides called a “helmet cover”. Before you compete you will need to slide this over the top of your helmet. Officials will use this number to tell who you are in races and where you finish. Be prepared to pay a deposit of about $10 for your helmet cover. At the end of the day, take your helmet cover back to the registration area, turn it in, and get your $10 back.
While at the registration table, you should pick up a “competitors grouping form” and a “meet format form”. The “competitors grouping form” will have the names of all of the competitors on it and will tell you what “division” or “grouping” you are competing in. Once you have this form you can look at the “meet format form”. The “meet format form” will then show a numerical list of each race scheduled for the entire day. It is important for you to go over this form to see what races you are scheduled for throughout the day, as you will compete in several races throughout the day at several race distances. (Several people will use a “highlighter” to mark their races to help ensure they do not miss one.)
NUMBER OF RACES AND DISTANCES
The number of races you will compete in at a competition may vary based on the amount of people in your age division or grouping. Whether you are competing in an “age division” or and “ability” competition, can also effect the number of races you will compete in somewhat.
The race distances you skate at a competition are also determined by different factors. If you are at an “age division” meet, you will skate distances based on your age, with older skaters skating longer distances. At an “ability” meet you will skate distances based on your speed, with faster skaters skating longer distances.
HEATS-FINALS-SUPER FINALS-AND POINTS
In most instances you will compete in two races at each distance. The first race at each distance is called a “HEAT”. The second race at the same distance is called a “FINAL”
A “Heat race” is your first race at a particular distance. If you finish near the front of your heat race, you will most likely qualify for the “A Final race”. If you finish near the back of your heat you will most likely qualify for the “B Final race”.
For this example, we will assume that there are a total of 10 people in your “division” or “grouping”. We will also assume that you will have races at the following distances – 1,000 meters, 1,500 meters, and 500 meters.
This means that there will be 5 people in the first heat race and 5 people in the second heat race for your “division” or “grouping”. In this example, your “meet format form” will show your division or group as having two heat races. I should also say something like, “Taking 1 and 2 and the fastest 3rd”. This means that first and second place in each Heat race will compete in the A Final. It also means that person who finished in third place with the fastest time from the two heats also will transfer and compete in the A Final for a total of 5 competitors in that Final. The slowest third place Heat race finisher as well as those who finished in fourth and fifth will compete in the B Final.
You will earn “Points” based on how you finish in each of your Finals. The person with the most “Points” at the end of the event is the winner. After you have competed in your Heats and Finals for your 1,000 meter, 1,500 meter, and 500 meter distances, you may be scheduled to participate in a “Super Final Race”. A “Super Final” is usually a race at a longer distance and is not preceded by a Heat Race. The top five in “Points” from your group up to this point will participate in the “A Super Final”. The other competitors will compete in the “B Super Final”.
After you have visited the registration table, it is time to get your equipment on for warm ups. Warm ups allow you to go out on the ice before the competition and warm up and get a feel for the ice conditions. Warm ups are usually about 10 minutes long and are done in larger groupings of competitors. Be sure to check your “meet format form” to determine which warm up you will participate in.
BREAKS AND RESURFACES
Most meets will have a break time for lunch. No races will take place during lunch. There will also be times throughout the day scheduled for ice resurfacing. These small breaks are usually shown on your “meet format form”.
After all the races are concluded, the meet officials often times will conduct an awards presentation or will distribute awards at the registration table when you turn in your helmet cover. This is also a great time to thank all of the volunteers and officials that worked the meet for you and your fellow competitors.