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Speed Skating at the 1992 Albertville Winter Games

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Sports:

Host City: Albertville, France
Date Started: February 9, 1992
Date Finished: February 9, 1992
Events: 10

Participants: 154 (95 men and 59 women) from 23 countries
Youngest Participant: HUN Krisztina Egyed (15 years, 168 days)
Oldest Participant: GER Christa Rothenburger-Luding (32 years, 73 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): GER Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann-Kleemann (3 medals)
Most Medals (Country): GER Germany (11 medals)

Overview

Speed skating is not a popular sport in France, and at the time the Games were awarded to Albertville, there were only two 400 m rinks in the country, both dating from earlier Olympics in Chamonix (1924) and Grenoble (1968). The rink in Albertville was designed to be re-purposed after the Games, when it was transformed to a football field with a running track. As the Chamonix and Grenoble rinks were also destroyed in the years after the Games, the 1992 Games actually marked the end of speed skating in France. To minimize costs, the rink in Albertville had been an outdoor oval, which meant the Olympic Records set at the high-altitude indoor rink in Calgary 1988 were unapproachable. While the French had hired the Inzell ice manager to ensure good ice conditions, several events were influenced by poor ice. Not helped by occasional rain and wind, several events were postponed with the hope of better ice, which rarely happened. In fact, the Albertville Games contributed to a rule by the International Skating Union (ISU) stating all Olympic speed skating competitions must be held indoors.

While East Germany had been successful in speed skating at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, the reunited Germany was even more succesful in Albertville, winning five out of ten gold medals. Two of them were won by Gunda Niemann (Germany), who won the 3,000 and 5,000 m and placed second in the 1,500 m. Another woman, Bonnie Blair (United States), also took two golds, adding to her 1988 500 m title. Also remarkable was the performance of Asian skaters. They had never won more than one medal at previous Games, but now Japan, China and South Korea shared in the prizes, although they did not capture a title.

Medalists