Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
For over 50 years the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships have seen fiery competitions. Who were the legendary participants and how can you bet on World Sprint Speed Skating?
In all-round speed skating, as a skater you have to distribute your forces well and be pretty good at different distances. In sprinting, it’s a little simpler: go fast and hope you don’t crash out at the corner. We take a closer look at the setup, history, and statistics of this tournament. Of course we look at all the options for betting on skating World Sprint Championships.
Format – World Sprint Speed Skating Championship
Since the first tournament in 1970, little has actually changed in the format of the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships. Until 1986 you could still become champion by only winning three of the four distances. Then it didn’t matter if you performed poorly at the fourth distance, for example, or even fell. Anyway, with three out of four you would probably have the least total points anyway, the second condition for becoming champion. As of 1987, the rule of “winning three distances is champion” had been dropped. From that year on, you simply had to be fastest over two times 500 meters and two times 1000 meters.
Incidentally, among the men, Eric Heiden managed to win at least three distances in 1978, 1979 and 1980. In 1979, he even won all four. Igor Zhelezovsky also did it in 1985. In the womens’ categories, Sheila Young succeeded in 1973, 1975 and 1976 (all four), Karin Enke in 1980, 1984 (all four) and 1985, Natalya Petroeseva in 1982 (all four). Christa Rothenburger was the only one who ever really took advantage of the “three wins is champion” rule. In 1985, she fell on the second 500 meters, but won the other three distances. Otherwise, she would have finished eighth.
History – World Sprint Speed Skating Championship
The World Sprint Speed Championships were only held some 80 years after the first World All-Around Speed Skating Championships, in 1970.
Especially notable are the World Sprint Champions from 1977 through 1980. A still very young American Eric Heiden (born in 1958) became three times in a row World All-round Champion and World Sprint Champion. In 1980 he crowned his career by winning all five distances at the Lake Placid Olympics. He then concluded his career at only 21 years of age.
Igor Zhelezovsky against Japan and America
After the world title for Canadian Gaétan Boucher in 1984 (amid four times silver) came the era of Igor Zhelezovsky. The sprinter from the Soviet Union would dominate world sprint skating from 1985 to 1993. He became champion six times, remarkably for three different countries: Soviet Union, CIS, and Belarus.
His main competitors came from Japan and the United States. Japanese Akira Kuroiwa was able to become world champion twice in Zhelezovsky’s heyday (1983 and 1987), as was American Dan Jansen (1988 and 1994). Other Japanese and Americans were also more often on the podium in those days.
Wotherspoon, Shimizu, Bos and Wennemars
In the mid-1990s there was a brief period of success for Sergei Klevchchenja, who became world champion twice. Then came a wonderful battle between the typical sprinting countries Canada and Japan. Hiroyasu Shimizu was by far the fastest skater over 500 meters, but the 1000 meters was actually 500 meters too far for him. The Emperor finished on the final podium six times between 1993 and 2001, but never on the top step.
In the late 1990s, Shimizu faced the likes of Jan Bos, who became world sprint champion in 1998. On that podium were the two other matadors of the time: Jeremy Wotherspoon and Erben Wennemars. Wotherspoon would become world champion four times from 1999-2003 and stand on the podium five more times. Erben Wennemars seized power after Wotherspoon’s titles, in 2004 and 2005. Another Canadian, Mike Ireland, became world champion in 2001 and stood on the podium several more times.
Of these successful sprinters, Hiroyasu Shimizu is, however, the only one to win a gold medal at the Olympics. In the 500 meters in 1998 in Nagano, Japan.
Kyou-hyuk Lee, Shani Davis and the Dutch
Starting in 2007, South Korea also began to “interfere” in sprinting. Before that, no South Korean had ever finished on the podium at the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships. In 2007, the then almost 29-year-old Kyou-hyuk Lee suddenly appeared on the world stage. In the autumn of his career, he suddenly became a four-time world sprint champion. Only in 2009 was he interrupted by Shani Davis, who had moved from allround racing to sprinting. In Lee’s years, other South Koreans were also suddenly on the podium.
Starting in 2012, the Netherlands also became a sprinting country of note. Stefan Groothuis beat Kyou-hyuk Lee and Mo Tae-bum in that year. He was succeeded by Michel Mulder, who became world champion in 2013 and 2014. 2014 was also the Netherlands’ most successful Olympic year. In Sochi, the Dutch won 23 out of 36 medals, including 8 out of 12 gold. In the men’s 500 and 1000 meters, it was 5 out of 6.
Kulizhnikov, Verbij and Krol
In the last seven editions, Pavel Kulizhnikov won three world titles, Kai Verbij won in 2017. Kjeld Nuis stood on the podium four times, but never became world champion. His Olympic gold medals will surely have eased the pain. In 2022, Thomas Krol took a big win.
Women’s World Sprint Speed Skating Championships: U.S. and Germany
Among the women, it has mainly been two countries that have called the shots since 1970. From 1970 to 2003, the world title went 17 times to (East) Germany and nine times to the United States. Three times a skater from the Soviet Union won, twice the Chinese Ye Qiaobo, and twice Catriona LeMay-Doan from Canada.
In 2004 the Dutch crowned a world sprint champion for the first time. Two years after her third Olympic gold medal, Marianne Timmer won the World Sprint Championships. Since then, there have been many different champions in women’s sprint. Only Yu Jing of China, Brittany Bowe of the U.S., and Nao Kodaira of Japan won twice. The Netherlands gained two more champions: Jorien ter Mors (2017) and Jutta Leerdam (2022). Heather Richardson-Bergsma was the most constant factor with five podium finishes including one world title.
Statistics – World Sprint Speed Skating Championship
The obvious king of sprinting is Igor Zhelezovsky with six world titles. Behind him we find a trio of skaters with four world titles. Jeremy Wotherspoon, Kyou-hyuk Lee, and Eric Heiden. Wotherspoon is the best of the three, though, with a total of nine podium finishes. Pavel Kulizhnikov is the only one with three world titles. Then again, Erben Wennemars is the only Dutchman with two championships, among four others.
With eight gold, seven silver and 14 bronze, the Netherlands does rank second in the country standings. The Soviet Union/Russia has 13 golds. The United States also stands at 8 gold in the men’s event, Canada and South Korea at 6.
Zhelezovsky and Wotherspoon also have by far the most medals at individual distances, with 27 (17 gold) and 28 (13 gold), respectively. Eric Heiden won no less than 13 golds in his few participations.
Women’s World Sprint Championships: Germany and the U.S.
For the women, it’s “Deutschland über alles. East German Karin Enke became world champion six times, Monique Garbrecht five times. Behind that we find a group of American women including three-time world champions Bonnie Blair and Sheila Young. After the 18 world titles for (East) Germany, and 13 for the U.S., far behind we see China at 5, Canada and Russia at 4, and the Netherlands and Japan at 3.
Karin Enke is also by far the best at the individual distances, not surprisingly of course. She won 31 medals including 17 gold. American women Bonnie Blair (28, including 15 gold) and Sheila Young (16, including 14 gold) follow in that list.
Betting Markets – World Sprint Skating Championship
When betting on skating, there are often a number of odds (betting markets) to choose from. We explain some of the ones you can choose from at Mobile Wins.
Betting on World Sprint Speed Skating Championships – outright winner
In (live) betting on skating, as in many other tournaments, betting on the outright winner is a logical possibility.
Betting on World Sprint Speed Skating Championships – nationality of the winner
Another betting market is related to the question above. This is because often at a tournament you can also indicate the nationality of the winner. Will the Dutch take gold again, or will the title go to Japan or Canada, for example?
Betting on World Sprint Speed Skating Championships – live betting on skating
Apart from the various betting markets, you can often bet live on these types of tournaments and other sports. This allows you to make a targeted estimate based on the tournament and bet accordingly.
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World Sprint Skating is a speed skating discipline where skaters compete in two 500m and two 1000m races over two days, emphasizing both speed and endurance.
Skaters’ combined times from the four races determine their overall ranking, making consistency across distances crucial.
The World Sprint Championships, established in 1970, gave rise to the recognition of sprinting specialists in speed skating.
World Sprint Skating sets itself apart by emphasizing short, intense races over two days, as opposed to longer distances.
In 2004, German skater Jenny Wolf became the first woman to break the 38-second barrier in the 500m event.