Racing Rules 101

The official rules of speed skating are governed by Speed Skating Canada (“SSC”) and the International Skating Union (“ISU”). In addition, our local and regional competitions have some specific rules that have been established by our provincial associations. For those who wish to review the detailed rules, please consult the Speed Skating Canada Red Book. Summarized here are the general rules that pertain to speed skating.

Regarding the rules, in general, common sense prevails. That is, given the number of skaters on a small ice surface, the objective of all the rules is to be as fair as possible for everyone and as safe as possible for everyone. That means: no interference with other skaters, complete the distance assigned, no false starts, no dangerous moves, etc. If you have additional questions regarding the rules, you can ask senior skaters, coaches, long-time member parents. We are all here to help!

  1. The distances skated are determined by the level of the skaters in a division. The track size varies, with a 100m track for most skaters and an 111m track used for the oldest and fastest skaters. The start line of the race may change for races that have a half-lap in them (eg 500 M is 4.5 laps on the 111m track), but the finish will always be in the same place (the side with the single red line). The cones marking the track are periodically moved to protect the ice and so the start line may also move to match the cones to keep the distances skated constant.
  2. Assigned helmet covers must be worn for all races, showing skaters’ numbers on both sides of the helmet.
  3. All protective gear must be on and bare skin covered or a skater will be disqualified or barred from skating in the race. Skates must be tied and all bolts tight. Equipment must not be removed until the skater has left the ice.
  4. Two false starts and a skater is penalized (disqualified). The skaters first line up behind the blue line at the start of a race. They then move to the start line on the command Go to the Start. Once at the start line, they remain relaxed in a standing position until the starter says Ready. After a pause to allow skaters to take their start position and become still, the starter fires a gun or sounds a tone to start the race. If there is a false start, the starter either fires the gun or sounds a tone a second time or blows a whistle. Starting in 2014-15, the first false start in a race is charged against the entire field. This means that if any skater commits another false start in that race, even if they did not commit the first false start, the skater will be penalized and removed from the race.
  5. If a skater is knocked down by another skater at the start (before the first corner apex block), the starter may call the start back. However, if a skater falls on his or her own and was not interfered with by another skater, the race will normally continue. If a falling skater interferes with another skater off the start, the race is generally called back. This is a judgment call by the starter and it should never be assumed that a race will be called back.
  6. Skaters are not allowed to shoot a leg forward to try and get a skate across the finish line in front of another skater. This action is called kicking out and will result in a penalty.
  7. A skater may knock a cone without being disqualified but if a skater skates inside the cones marking the curve to try and shorten the track, they will be disqualified. There are track stewards on the ice surface who replace displaced cones.
  8. Skaters are not allowed to interfere with other skaters: no pushing, no bumping a skater in front of them (e.g. by cutting inside as they enter a corner). This is referred to as impeding>.
  9. If a skater falls, it is their responsibility to make sure they don’t interfere with another skater when getting up and starting to skate again. This means that they have to check behind them for other skaters before getting up or back on the track. Skaters who have fallen and are effectively out of the running will usually keep to the outside of the track.
  10. Any unsportsmanlike behavior may also result in disqualification. This may include, but is not limited to, swearing or insulting other competitors or officials, punching mats after a fall, or inappropriate celebration on crossing the finish line.
  11. If a skater falls on their own or is taken down in an accidental fashion by another skater, it is simply considered bad luck. However, if a skaters is knocked down or knocked off course as a result of an infraction by another skater, that skater may be advanced from a heat to a higher final by the referee. This will only happen if the referee has determined that the skater was in a position to earn a position into that higher final when the infraction occurred.

In general, all skaters should skate a fair and honest race, to ensure safety of all participants.

The following are actions that can cause a skater to be penalized:

  • Missing Equipment:
    • helmet
    • helmet cover
    • glasses
    • glass strap
    • neck guard
    • gloves
    • ankle guard
    • all skin from the neck down must be covered
  • Removal of any Equipment when on the ice surface.
  • False start – Skater moves or touches the start line prior to the starter gun been fired. First false start in a race has no penaly. Second false start (regardless of who is guilty) in a race, the racer responsible is disqualified.
  • Off track – racers need to skate around all the blocks. If the skater goes inside, they must back track and go around the missed block on the outside.
  • Passing –is allowed at all times, but until the skaters are beside each other the responsibility for any obstruction or collision falls on the skater making the pass (provided the skater being passed does not act improperly).
  • Impeding, blocking, charging, or pushing another skater with any part of the body. Interfere with another skater by crossing his/her course thereby causing contact.
  • Assistance–Each Skater shall compete as an individual. Any assistance from other Skaters will be cause for sanctions of all skaters involved. This will not apply to the push the skater receives from their Team-mate in a Relay race.
  • Kicking out –any skate during any part of a race thereby causing danger including at the finish line or throwing the body across the finish line is forbidden.
  • Abusive language towards the officials/dangerous behavior or actions towards other competitors or misconduct.
  • Skaters will be penalized for part (Yellow card) or the whole of the competition (Red Card). In the case of a Red Card, a description of the incident shall be included in the Chief Referee’s report to be sent to SSC Head Office for further action and distribution to the appropriate committee(s), if warranted.
  • Penalty in a heat will be placed into the lowest final.
  • Penalty in a semi-final will be placed into the lowest eligible final.
  • Penalty in the final, will receive last place points for that final, behind any skaters who did not finish (DNF) the race, but ahead of skaters who did not start (DNS) the race. All disqualified skaters in a final receive last place points.
  • Order of finish – DNF – DQ – DNS.