The 1988 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XV Olympic Winter Games,were a winter multi-sport event celebrated in and around Calgary, Alberta, Canada from February 13-28, 1988. The host was selected in 1981 after having beat Falun, Sweden and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
Fifty-seven nations and 1,423 athletes participated in the games. Speed skating made its indoor Olympic debut at the Olympic Oval. At the time, short track was still a demonstration sport but is now a full Olympic Sport.
Similar to the 1988 Summer Olympics, the Soviet Union and East Germany dominated the events, coming in first and second in the overall medal table. As at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the only previous games hosted in Canada, the host country failed to produce any gold medals. Matti Nykänen won all three ski jumping events. Yvonne van Gennip won three gold medals in speed skating, setting two world records. Alberto Tomba won two gold medals in alpine skiing. Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards and the Jamaica national bobsled team entered with little experience but gathered massive media attention, resulting in qualification rules for later games.
Speed Skating Olympic history
Speed skating appeared for the first time in 1924 at the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix. Initially, only men were allowed to participate. It was only at the Lake Placid Games in 1932 that women were permitted to compete in speed skating, which was then only a demonstration sport. It was not until the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley that women’s speed skating was officially included in the Olympic Winter games.
The events almost always follow the European system, which consists of skaters competing two-by-two. At the 1932 Olympic Games, the Americans organised American-style events, i.e. with a mass start. This decision brought about a boycott by many European competitors, which allowed the Americans to win four gold medals. This system would give birth to short track speed skating, which was added to the Olympic program in Albertville in 1992.
For a complete list of Speed Skating medals at the 1988 Winter Olympics, click here.