Speed Skating

Karen Lu


When speed skating first started in the Olympics, it was a male only sport. Almost 40 years later, women joined in. Speed skating is perfect for thrill seekers out there with athletes skating at about 750 meters every minute. In each Speed Skating event, skaters race in pairs against the clock on a standard 400m oval ring.

A Brief History

The Dutch were arguably the earliest pioneers of skating. They began skating from village to village using canals as far back as the 13th century. Skating eventually spread across the channel to England, and soon the first clubs and artificial rinks began to form. Early passionate skaters included several kings of England, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon III and German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Lidiya Skoblikova is the top skating medalist with 6 gold medals; 4 of which were all from the same year, Innsbruck 1964.

Winning Times

In Sochi 2014, Jorien ter Mors had the best time in history for women's 1500m Speed Skating event, 1:53.51. In Salt Lake City 2002, Derek Parra had a record breaking time of 1:43.95 in the men's event.

Matching Up

This article's purpose is to predict if/when women's performance is likely to surpass men's performance in the 1500m Speed Skating event in the Olympics. Although men and women do not compete against each other in the 1500m Speed Skating event, by analyzing the data from previous Olympics, conclusions and results can be reached about this match-up.

Goal of the Article

We will be using linear regression and methods of solving a system of equations to determine if/when women’s performance is likely to surpass men’s performance in the 1500m Speed Skating event.

The Data

The data to the side shows the first 4 years (1960-1972) both men and women competed in the 1500m Speed Skating event in the Olympics and the gold medalist times for that year. List 1 is the Olympic years. List 2 are the female gold medalist finish times in total seconds and List 3 are the male gold medalist finish times.

The Scatter Plot

The square dots represent the female competitors and the Xs are the male competitors.

The Linear Regression

These are the trend lines for the male and female Olympic gold medalist times. The blue represents the female trend line and the red represents the male trend line.

Intersection Point

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Both trend lines are decreasing, which means the times are actually decreasing. The trend shows that both male and female competitors are getting faster at speed skating according to their historical performance. The red line is the trend line for the male competitors, which has a more gradual decrease than the steeper blue trend line for the female competitors. Female skaters' times are decreasing at a faster rate. At present, the male competitors are outperforming their female counterparts, but according to the trends, that will change at the intersection point.

The X-Coordinate

The independent value represents the years according to a normal timeline. The x-coordinate occurs in the year 2069, which is not a Winter Olympic year. The next Winter Olympics after 2069 occurs in the year 2070. According to the trend lines, this is the year when women will start outperforming men in the 1500m Speed Skating event.

The Y-Coordinate

The dependent value, 74 seconds, converts to 1 minute and 14 seconds. This is the approximate predicted gold medalist time for both men and women if the competition occurred in 2069. Since the Winter Olympics will not happen until 2070, and the trend lines are decreasing, the time for both genders will be less than this. It will be close, but the women's gold medal time is predicted to be less than the men's.
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