Host City: Calgary, Canada
Date Started: February 14, 1988
Date Finished: February 14, 1988
Participants: 141 (88 men and 53 women) from 21 countries
Youngest Participant: Song Yong-Hun (16 years, 36 days)
Oldest Participant: Colin Coates (41 years, 323 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 3 athletes with 3 medals
Most Medals (Country): East Germany (13 medals)
The Calgary Olympic Oval, an indoor rink with artificial ice, was built specifically for the 1988 Winter Olympics, and was opened in November 1987. It was not the first indoor speed skating oval in the world, that honor going to the Sportforum Hohenschönhausen in Berlin in late 1985, followed in 1986 by Heerenveen’s IJsstadium Thialf in the Netherlands, but this was the first time that the Olympic speed skating events would be held indoors. Shortly after opening, the Calgary Olympic Oval quickly developed a reputation as the fastest rink in the world, and when a World Cup event was held there in December 1987, six world records were broken at the meet. At the 1988 Winter Olympics six of the 10 distance world records were broken in Calgary. The speed of the rink was due to the covered oval, keeping out weather conditions, the dry air of Calgary, and its altitude, at 1,035 metres. One change did occur to the speed skating Olympic Program in 1988, as a fifth event was added for women, the 5,000 metres. The 5,000 had replaced the 1,000 metre in women’s all-around competition starting in 1983.
Star of the speed skating competitions was Yvonne van Gennip, who unexpectedly beat the favored East German skaters to win three gold medals. Among the men, it was Tomas Gustafson who added two more gold medals to his gold and silver of Sarajevo.