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Sunday, January 6, 2002
Updated: January 8, 1:07 AM ET
Fan Guide

By ESPN.com news services

FROM START TO FINISH
Speedskating

ESPN.com's animated fan guide feature takes you through the ins and outs of each sport. Check out each sport's fan guide for more.

Long Track

Short Track


Olympic competition dates:
Long track: Feb. 9-14, Feb. 16-17, Feb. 19-20, Feb. 22-23
Venue: Utah Olympic Oval
Short track: Feb. 13, Feb. 16, Feb. 20, Feb. 23
Venue: Salt Lake Ice Center

The outlook
Long track
Men: Canada's Jeremy Wotherspoon is the sprint favorite on the fast ice of the Utah Olympic Oval. Americans Derek Parra and Casey FitzRandolph are among the medal hopefuls. Jochem Uytdehaage of the Netherlands won the European men's overall title, his first international title, while Frank Dittrich of Germany took the 10,000. Tomomi Okazaki and Eriko Sanmiya of Japan are expected to challenge.

Women: Catriona Le May Doan is the sprint favorite, while Anni Friesenger of Germany could take three gold medals at the longer distances after winning 500, 1,500 and 3,000-meter races at European championships. Jennifer Rodriguez and Chris Witty are the American hopefuls.

Short track
Men: American Apolo Anton Ohno is a medal contender in all four men's events.

Women: The Chinese and Koreans have the strongest teams on the women's side. Defending Olympic champion and World Cup champion Kim Dong-Sung of South Korea, who will be 22 on the first day of the games, is expected to win more than one medal. Amy Peterson, a three-time Olympic medalist, heads the American women. China's women include two skaters with the same name -- Yang Yang. They are unrelated. Bulgaria's Evgenia Radanova will challenge.

The finer points
Short track: First included in the official program at Albertville in 1992, short track pits skaters not against the clock but against each other. Four skaters race at a time, with those placing first and second advancing to the next round

At the start, four racers line up side by side, but they can pass at any time. If a skater in front raises the upper body creating an opening, it is permissible to pass on the inside. However, pushing results in disqualification. Skaters are penalized for causing a crash.

One of the most exciting events is the relay. Each team consists of four members. The same skater must skate the final two laps, but otherwise team members can trade off at any time in any order. Changeovers can occur anywhere on the course by touch or push. Usually the successor starts picking up speed in the inner zone, then moves onto the track at the right moment to get a push from behind.

Long track: This is the speedskating of Eric Heiden, Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen. Skaters race the clock using long, graceful and powerful strides around a 400-meter double track.

The Olympic Oval
Long track speedskaters will compete on the Utah Olympic Oval.

This will be the second Olympics that the "clap" skate will be in use. Developed in the Netherlands, the skate has a normal-size blade and boot. But the blade is hinged at the toe, allowing the full runner to stay in contact with the ice as the skater glides, increasing the force on the track. As the blade comes back in contact with the heel of the boot, it makes a ratcheting "clap-clap-clap," a distinct departure from the whispering brush of traditional skates.

Some of the athletes who learned to skate on the older model have had difficulty adjusting to the new form of skate despite its use by the elite skaters for the past five years.