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Ever wondered who slices through ice faster than you can blink?

From record-breaking sprints to heart-stopping finishes, these 15 speed skating icons have left their chill mark on history.

Strap on your skates as we glide through the stories of the coolest titans of the rink.

Best Speed Skaters:

  1. Eric Heiden (Long Track)
  2. Sven Kramer (Long Track)
  3. Ireen WΓΌst (Long Track)
  4. Viktor Ahn (Ahn Hyun-soo) (Short Track)
  5. Bonnie Blair (Long Track)
  6. Shani Davis (Long Track)
  7. Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann (Long Track)
  8. Apolo Ohno (Short Track)
  9. Martina Sablikova (Long Track)
  10. Johann Olav Koss (Long Track)
  11. Kim Ki-hoon (Short Track)
  12. Wang Meng (Short Track)
  13. Charles Hamelin (Short Track)
  14. Lidia Skoblikova (Long Track)
  15. Choi Min-jeong (Short Track)

#1 Eric Heiden

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: June 14, 1958
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Long Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 5 individual gold medals in all speed skating events at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Games, Multiple World Allround Speed Skating Championships, World Sprint Speed Skating Championships

Eric Heiden is renowned for his historic performance at the 1980 Winter Olympics, where he won an unmatched five individual gold medals. His astonishing dominance across all distances showcased his versatility and unparalleled endurance. Heiden’s aerodynamic skating style and powerful technique revolutionized the sport.

Post-speed skating, Heiden became a successful orthopedic surgeon and public speaker, inspiring people with his commitment to excellence in multiple fields. His impact on speed skating endures, with many athletes citing his achievements as a catalyst for their own careers. Heiden’s legacy is of an athlete who redefined what was possible in winter sports.

#2 Sven Kramer

  • 🌍 Nationality: Dutch
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 23, 1986
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Long Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Multiple Olympic gold medals, Numerous World Allround Speed Skating Championships, Several World Single Distance Championships titles

Sven Kramer is acknowledged as one of the greatest long-distance speed skaters of all time, with his tactical intelligence and consistency setting him apart. His ideal physique for long track events has allowed him to dominate, especially in the 5000m and 10000m races, events in which he has set world records.

Off the ice, Kramer has gained respect for his advocacy for clean sport and his approachable personality that has endeared him to fans worldwide. Despite facing challenges like disqualification and injury, his resilience and success have earned him legendary status in the Netherlands and in the sport of speed skating.

#3 Ireen WΓΌst

  • 🌍 Nationality: Dutch
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 1, 1986
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Long Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: Most decorated Olympic speed skater of all time, Multiple Olympic gold medals, Several World Allround and World Single Distance Championships titles

Ireen WΓΌst’s blend of tactical acumen and explosive speed has set her apart in the world of speed skating, earning her the title of the most decorated Olympic speed skater in history. Her ability to peak at major championships has defined her illustrious career, and her fierce competitiveness has kept her at the summit of the sport for over a decade.

Away from the rink, WΓΌst has been open about her personal life, serving as an inspiring figure for the LGBTQ+ community. Despite facing personal challenges, her consistent pursuit of excellence has left an indelible mark on speed skating. Her versatility and longevity have secured her legacy as a true sport icon.

#4 Viktor Ahn (Ahn Hyun-soo)

  • 🌍 Nationality: South Korean-Russian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: November 23, 1985
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Short Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 6 Olympic gold medals, 11 World Championship titles, First skater to win all four distances at a World Championship

Viktor Ahn, originally Ahn Hyun-soo before obtaining Russian citizenship in 2011, is an emblematic figure in the realm of short track speed skating, acclaimed for his strategic racing and agility. Despite suffering severe injuries that threatened his career, his comeback to win Olympic gold for Russia stands as a testimony to his determination and skill.

Ahn’s transition from a successful career competing for South Korea to representing Russia was a major talking point and brought to light issues within the sport’s politics. His influence on the track has motivated a new generation of skaters, and his cross-cultural achievements in speed skating symbolize a uniquely dynamic and resilient career.

#5 Bonnie Blair

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 18, 1964
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Long Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 5 Olympic gold medals, Multiple World Championships, Former world record holder for the 500m and 1000m events

Bonnie Blair is revered for her sprinting prowess, making her one of the fastest female speed skaters of her era. Her remarkable balance and explosive start were key to her success, particularly in the 500-meters, a race she won in three consecutive Winter Games. Blair combined her technical skill with a mental toughness that made her nearly unbeatable.

Off the ice, her charisma and relentless work ethic have translated into motivational speaking and charitable involvement. Blair’s legacy transcends her Olympic triumphs; she is also a role model to young athletes, exemplifying how to achieve sustained excellence with grace and sportsmanship.

#6 Shani Davis

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 13, 1982
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Long Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2 Olympic gold medals, Multiple World Single Distance Championships titles, First Black athlete to win an individual gold medal at a Winter Olympics

Shani Davis made history as the first Black athlete to win an individual gold medal at a Winter Olympics, showcasing his exceptional endurance and speed, particularly in the middle distances. Renowned for his smooth and efficient stride, Davis’s style revolutionized the sport and cemented his place as one of the greatest speed skaters.

Throughout his career, Davis has been a prominent advocate for diversity within winter sports and continues to inspire athletes from underrepresented communities. His commitment to breaking barriers, both on and off the ice, contributes to his lasting impact on speed skating and the broader sports landscape.

#7 Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann

  • 🌍 Nationality: German
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: September 7, 1966
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Long Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3 Olympic gold medals, 8 World Allround Championships, Numerous World Single Distance Championships titles

Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann is a powerhouse in the rink, renowned for her extraordinary stamina and technique, which have seen her dominate long-distance events throughout her career. Her imposing physique and rigorous training routine allowed her to outpace competitors and set new standards in women’s speed skating.

Beyond her sporting achievements, Niemann-Stirnemann is known for her resilience, having staged remarkable comebacks from injuries. Her record-breaking performances in the 1990s cemented her legacy as one of the sport’s all-time greats. As a trailblazer, she laid the groundwork for future generations of female speed skaters.

#8 Apolo Ohno

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: May 22, 1982
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Short Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 8 Olympic medals, 12 World Championship titles, Over 20 World Cup victories

Apolo Ohno, well regarded as a phenom in short track speed skating, is celebrated for his charismatic presence on the ice and an explosive burst of speed in the finishing stretches of his races. His agility and tactical finesse allowed him to navigate the pack and surge to victory time and again.

Ohno has utilized his platform to promote healthy living and foster a positive impact on society. His post-skating career has included successful stints in broadcasting and as an entrepreneur, solidifying his status as a versatile and enduring figure in both athletic and entertainment spheres.

#9 Martina Sablikova

  • 🌍 Nationality: Czech
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: May 17, 1987
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Long Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— Olympic gold medalist, 9x World Allround Championships medalist, Multiple World Cup titles

Martina Sablikova, known for her exceptional stamina and technique on the ice, is a force in long-distance speed skating. Renowned for her clean and efficient strokes, Sablikova’s strategic racing and tempo shifts have made her a dominant competitor, particularly in the 3000 meters and 5000 meters events.

Her impact on the sport is significant, with multiple records and a thriving international career. Beyond the rink, Martina has influenced youth sports in the Czech Republic and has been admired for her professionalism and dedication to training. Her contributions to Czech athletics shine both in her accolades and her embodiment of the athlete’s spirit.

#10 Johann Olav Koss

  • 🌍 Nationality: Norwegian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: October 29, 1968
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Long Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4x Olympic gold medalist, Multiple World Championships gold medals, World records

Johann Olav Koss, nicknamed “The Boss,” for his dominance during the 1994 Winter Olympics, where he won three gold medals, all in Olympic record times. Koss had a unique combination of power and endurance, with flawless technique that seemed to defy the limits of speed skating.

Following his sports career, Koss founded Right To Play, an organization that uses sports and play to educate and empower children facing adversity. He is highly respected for his humanitarian work as well as his sportsmanship and performances. Koss’s legacy remains an inspiration for athletes and humanitarians alike.

#11 Kim Ki-hoon

  • 🌍 Nationality: South Korean
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 13, 1967
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Short Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— Olympic gold medalist, First-ever Olympic Champion in short track, Multiple World Championship titles

Kim Ki-hoon earned the nickname “Ice Incense Burner” for his calm demeanor and strategic precision on the ice. His agility and tactical intelligence allowed him to navigate the pack with an almost meditative grace, ultimately dominating the sport in its early Olympic years.

Kim’s contribution to establishing South Korea as a powerhouse in short track speed skating is undeniable. He remains an iconic figure in the sport, and his legacy is continued through his mentorship of younger skaters, contributing to his nation’s ongoing success in the discipline.

#12 Wang Meng

  • 🌍 Nationality: Chinese
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 10, 1985
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Short Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— Olympic gold medalist, Multiple World Cup and World Championship titles

Wang Meng, nicknamed the “Heartbreak Kid” for her fierce and fearless racing style, has become a cornerstone of short track speed skating. She is celebrated for her explosive starts and exceptional cornering abilities, which have led her to the highest podiums in the sport.

Despite controversies, including a suspension for disciplinary reasons, Wang’s resilience and dedication to her craft propelled her to return and continue her winning ways. Off the track, she has served as an inspiration for many young athletes in China, both as a model of excellence and as a testament to the power of redemption.

#13 Charles Hamelin

  • 🌍 Nationality: Canadian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 14, 1984
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Short Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 5Γ— Olympic medalist (3 golds), Multiple World Championship titles, Numerous individual and relay victories

Charles Hamelin, also known as “The Old Wolverine” for his longevity and competitive edge, stands out for his exceptional balance and tactical intelligence in short track racing. His ability to make split-second decisions and his powerful pushes make him one of the most formidable skaters on the track.

Throughout his storied career, Hamelin has been celebrated for his sportsmanship and role as a team leader. His contributions to the sport extend beyond his own achievements, fostering a strong legacy within the Canadian speed skating community. His personal life is marked by his close relationship with his brother and fellow skater, François Hamelin, illustrating a family deeply intertwined with the sport.

#14 Lidia Skoblikova

  • 🌍 Nationality: Soviet, Russian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 8, 1939
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Long Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 6Γ— Olympic gold medalist, Multiple World Championship titles

Lidia Skoblikova, hailed as the “Soviet Speedskating Queen,” set the standard for female long track speed skaters. Her effortless glide and unmatched endurance during the 1960s brought her to the pinnacle of the sport, capturing every Olympic gold medal available to female skaters in her prime.

Her profound impact on the sport continues to influence modern speed skating techniques and training regimens. Skoblikova’s later role in speed skating governance and as a promoter of the sport in Russia adds another layer to her towering legacy within the ice rinks and beyond.

#15 Choi Min-jeong

  • 🌍 Nationality: South Korean
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: September 9, 1998
  • ⛸️ Position/Role: Short Track Speed Skater
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2Γ— Olympic gold medalist, Multiple World Championship titles, Numerous World Cup victories

Choi Min-jeong, known for her powerful strides and impeccable technique, has risen as one of the leading figures in short track speed skating. Her mental fortitude and focus shine through in her strategic racing and ability to recover from setbacks, such as disqualifications at crucial moments.

Outside of competition, Choi’s discipline and work ethic serve as an inspiration to young athletes in South Korea. With her career still unfolding, Choi is expected to continue shaping the landscape of short track speed skating, setting new records, and pushing the boundaries of the sport. Her personal endeavors and the humility she displays despite her achievements resonate deeply within her community and fanbase.

FAQ

Who is the best Speed Skating player of all time?

Eric Heiden is considered the best Speed Skating player of all time. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Eric Heiden is the best Speed Skating player of all time. His unmatched five gold medals in a single Olympics stand as a historic feat.

Who are the top 10 greatest Speed Skating players of all time?

Eric Heiden, Sven Kramer, Ireen WΓΌst, Viktor Ahn, Bonnie Blair, Shani Davis, Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann, Apolo Ohno, Martina Sablikova, and Johann Olav Koss are the top 10 greatest Speed Skating players of all time. These athletes have set remarkable records and won numerous medals in their careers, defining excellence in the sport.

Who is the most famous female Speed Skating player?

Ireen WΓΌst is the most famous female Speed Skating player. Her numerous Olympic medals and world championship titles have made her a standout icon in the long track discipline.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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