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Speed Skating Meets

Speed Skating competitions are called "Meets." Over the course of the season, Club members will go to as many as 8-10 competitions in short track and long track with younger skaters attending 2-5 Meets and older skaters attending more. The types of competitions vary and rarely does every skater go to all of them. Not sure? Ask the Coahces! Short track meets are skated on an indoor 100m oval track for younger skaters (Ages 13 and under) and a 111 m oval track for older skaters (ages 14+). Long track meets are skated on a 400m oval track, often outdoors as there is only one indoor Oval in Alberta and only three in Canada! 


Why Meets?

Although a skater may become involved with the sport of speed skating for fun or to improve skating skills, often they will eventually want to put those skills to the test in a competition. As a parent suddenly confronted with the situation of entering your child in their first competition, what do you have to do? 


Meet Registration

Registration for Meets in Alberta is done through the Speed Skating Canada registration system, Ice Reg. All Speed Skaters register with the Club in Ice Reg and so do their parents as Adult Volunteers. When the Meet Registration is sent to the Club, this will include a link to register in Ice Reg and pay online. Almost all Meets in Alberta are Ability Meets which means that Skaters are placed in groups with a mix of ages and male and female skaters based on their times. Meet Registration may ask for a time. If you are unsure, as your Coach. 


Our Club meet in November is the perfect first meet for new skaters!

Overview of Meets

Most of the meets run in Alberta are Short Track or Long Track Ability Meets, so much of this information is specifically related to these forms of competitions, but the basics apply regardless of which discipline is being skated. If a Meet is a Qualifier for a National Competition, this will be clear in the Meet Announcement. If you have questions, ask the Coach! 


An Ability meet format means that skaters of equal ability (as determined by submitted best times or time trials), regardless of age and gender, skate in the same races. It is critical that you submit accurate times so that your child can be placed in a fun yet challenging group for the Meet. Their Group at the Meet will be called a Division.


Divisions and Seed Times 


Usually, the oldest skaters are Division 1 and the skaters are divided by the seed times at regular intervals with 12-20 skaters in a Division. Depending on the Meet, there might be 6 Divisions or 10 Divisions. This means that your skater may not be in the same numbered division at different meets -- they could be in Division 4 at one Meet and in Division 6 or Division 2 at another Meet - it all depends on the total number of skaters and the seed times. The names of Divisions are not standard and your skater will be placed in the right Division based on their Seed Time throughout the season. At each Meet, your skater will also be assigned a Helmet Cover Number. This will be on the yellow cover that goes on their helmet. This will change from meet to meet (Skater 151 at the Red Deer Meet might be Skater 203 at the Calgary Meet). 


Race Day

On race day, arrive early so that your child can register with the hosting club (if required), check in with the Coach, get your Helmet Cover (from the Host Club or from the Coach), find the correct dressing room, do stretching exercises, and be ready to be on the ice in time for warm-up (if your child is skating early in the program). The coach will typically advise each skater when he or she will be racing, but as a parent, you can help by finding the schedule (which is usually posted on the wall, emailed in advance, or posted on an app for the Meet) and by making sure that your skater is aware of the time when he or she should begin to prepare for their next race. Race results are usually posted on a wall in a place accessible to everyone. At first glance, especially for a parent new to the sport, the results don’t seem to make a lot of sense. While times are taken, it is the finish place that is important in a short track meet.


In an Ability meet, skaters are put into several heats with 5 or 6 skaters in each heat. Meets typically consist of a heat and final at each distance the skater is racing. The Competition Steward will assign skaters to a heat based on their seed times or randomly. The method used to distribute the skaters is designed to ensure that all the top skaters do not end up in the same heat. All skaters then will race in a final at each distance determined by how they placed in their heat. 




Ability Meets allow all skaters to race in both Heats and Finals. Skaters who come in first in their Heat are automatically placed in the "A Final" with position and times determining placement in the remaining heats (e.g. fastest 2nd place skater). If there are 5 Heats and the race has 5 skaters on the start line, the advancement will be 1+0 (the winner of each Heat will advance to the A Final and the other skaters will skate in the B, C, or D finals depending on their times and places). If there were 4 Heats and 5 Skaters on the start line, the advancement would be 1+1 (the four Heat Winners + 1 skater who was the fastest 2nd place finisher from the heats). If there were 3 Heats and 8 Skaters on the start line, it would be a 2+2 Advancement, the 1st and 2nd Place skaters in all Heats would advance to the A Final and so would the next 2 fastest 3rd place finishers; even if the 4th place finisher in one Heat was faster than one of the 3rd place finishers from another Heat, the 4th place skater would not advance to the A Final based on their time. The 3rd place skaters would advance based on position. As Short Track involves speed, technique, and strategy, the position is used for advancement in most competitions. 


Results and Points

In the finals, each skater is awarded points based upon his or her final position at each distance skated. The important thing to remember is that the skater finishing last in the “A” final will earn more points than the winner of the “B” final and so on through the finals. The aggregate point total for all final races determines the overall meet results for each skater.


Time and points will generally be posted but sometimes only place and points will be shown. While the volunteers do their best to be accurate, occasionally an error will occur. If you find an error or have any other concerns talk to your coach. Do not take questions to the referees or other officials, and do not enter the Results or Meet Office. Office volunteers, including the Competition Steward, are trying very hard to record all information as quickly and as correctly as they can. Interruptions just increase their chance of making an error or causing a delay in the meet because they have been delayed in preparing the next set of races. Your Coach is your contact at the Meet -- ask them and they will take your concern forward and the Competition Steward will address it. 

Goal Setting and Mindset for Meets\

Remember that not every skater can finish first. Before getting to a meet, you should discuss with your child (and his or her Coach) what goals he or she has set for the races. It can be anything from staying on his or her feet through all the races, to shaving specific time off personal bests in a given distance, to doing at least one inside pass in a competition situation. As a parent, you should understand what skills your child wants to improve and then you can provide appropriate encouragement and support throughout the meet. Process and appropriate development are more important than results. Often, winning is not the goal -- a personal best and improved technique is a great reason to celebrate at a Meet! 


Dressing Room Etiquette


Encourage your skater to maintain his or her area in the dressing room in a tidy condition. All skating equipment should be stored in a single spot – preferably in his or her equipment bag. Remember, everyone has similar equipment, so your child’s equipment should be labeled with his or her name. Garbage should be thrown into the appropriate containers and the room should be left in good condition. It is everyone’s responsibility at the end of the meet to ensure the there is no garbage lying on the floor and nothing is left behind.




Many clubs are small and do not always have enough volunteers to run a meet smoothly. If you, as a parent, are asked to lend a hand, don’t worry if you don’t know much about the sport. There are others who will willingly teach you the basics and your help will be greatly appreciated. So, go ahead….volunteer. It’s Fun!


Dressing For Meets


Long Track Meets


For long track meets, skin suits are desirable but any close-fitting clothing will suffice. Under skin suits, skaters usually wear thermal underwear for warmth that whicks away moisture. Aside from that, warm mitts are usually a good idea, as well as sports glasses to protect the eyes from ice, snow and wind. For many skaters, a warm-up suit is also a very good idea, as it allows for longer warm-ups and more comfort during the pre-race time period.

At practices, the situation is a bit different. Aerodynamics are not quite as important and warmth becomes a more critical issue. Dressing in layers is highly recommended. For the upper body, that should include a full set of underwear, another shirt or sweater, and a windbreaker of some sort. A neck buff or other face protector often helps. For the legs, a warm pair of tights with long underwear underneath is a good idea. On the feet, boot covers provide extra warmth on cold nights. These can be purchased from the Club or at most major meets.


Short Track Meets

For short trackers, the situation is both simpler and more complex. What one wears at practice is usually very similar to what one wears at races only at practices one tends to wear something over the skin suit to provide extra warmth.

What to Pack in Your Equipment Bag

Wherever you travel for speed skating, you should carry certain things to support your efforts. Besides the equipment and clothing listed above, you should also stow:

  • a rag for drying off your skates after each use

  • hard and soft (booties) skate guards to protect your blades

  • a sharpening jig (your own or the Club’s)

  • sharpening stones and deburring stones

  • extra socks, skin suits, laces, and a hair dryer in case of falls (short track is wet!)

  • personal medical information

  • reading material and games

  • nutritious snacks

  • Skates - Don't forget your Skates! 


On Meet Day

Be at the arena in plenty of time. Warm-up is normally very early and is not of much value if you are skating later in the day. For some skaters, however, getting onto the ice early helps to calm the butterflies.


  • Check-in right away with your coach(es).

  • Get a Program of Events and note the races that you will be competing in.

  • Find the locker room assigned to our Club or go to the bleacher area where other Club members are gathering.

  • About five or six races before your race, have your skates on and report to the Clerk of the Course.

  • You will then be asked to wait with the other skaters in your race. There you will find out your position on the start line.

  • After a race, get off the ice as quickly as possible, return to the locker room / bleachers, remove and wipe down your skates, and wait for the next race.


Pre-Competition Warm-Up

  • Skaters should arrive in time for their scheduled warm-up laps. This will be listed on the Schedule sent out to the Club before each Meet. Recommended pre-competition warm-ups include:

  • 4 quicker laps

  • pivot inside turn

  • accelerations

  • starts

  • Games: agility games, jumps, slalom, sculling, spinning, one leg, backwards, etc.

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