How Fast Do Speed Skaters Go? World Record Holders and Ice vs. Road

11 Aug.,2022


Well, it depends whether we’re talking about ice or inline. Let’s have a look at both and see how they compare.

So, how fast do speed skaters go? Short track speed skaters on ice go about 31mph (50kph) but can reach speeds in excess of 35 mph (56kph). The fastest ice speed skater reached 56.5mph (91kph), whereas the fastest downhill inline skater reached 77mph (124 kph).

the speed of inline skaters

It really depends on what type of surface you’re skating on, and over what distance. It’s also interesting to compare inline skating with ice skating to see who can go faster!

How Fast Do Speed Skaters Go On Ice and On The Road?

According the official Olympic website, short track speed skaters on ice, can reach speeds up to 31mph (50 kph). Inline skating gets very close as well…

For ice skating, the Olympic record at the 2018 Pyeongchang games set by Canadian Charles Hamelin was 1 min 23 seconds for 1000 m, which is an average speed of 40.9 kph (25.4mph), so going 25 mph on ice is considered pretty fast obviously, but keeping that up for a whole kilometre is heading significantly faster than running (but slower than cycling).

Inline skating on a track or the road is a tiny bit slower but barely. However, to illustrate exactly how barely, on the track, Bart Swings of Belgium set the world record in Geisingen in Germany in 2014 at 1 min 17 seconds for 1000 m. That’s an average speed of 29 mph (46.7kph) or about 25 knots if you’re the nautical type. That means the inline skater did the distance faster than the Olympic record holder with a faster average speed (and probably maximum as well).

But I have cheated you a little bit here, and I’m comparing apples and oranges. Actually, the fastest ever 1000m on a pair of ice skates over that distance in a competition was Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands, who did it in 1 min 6 seconds, which is an average speed of 33.8mph (or 54.4kph), so clearly ice gets faster.

Basically, they both hover around the 30mph mark when travelling around 1 kilometer. It turns out that average speed remains pretty similar even when they do a lot more distance. They can keep up an average of 27 mph over a distance of 10 kilometers! And when I say “they”, I really mean one inline skater on the planet who actually did that, Alexis Contin of France in 2014.

What’s The Guinness World Record For Inline Speed Skating?

Ok, so what’s the absolute fastest that skaters have ever been on planet Earth? For this, we turn to Guinness. Not the Irish drink, but the men with clipboards and stop watches who give you a little certificate.

Sandro Bovo holds the record for downhill inline skating reaching 124.67 kph (77.47 mph) in Teutonia, Brazil on February 2016. You can see it here:

He also won the Italian Championship in 2015, and finished third at the World Cup in 2013.

When you’re next in a car on a motorway (speeding in the UK), look out the window and imagine having wheels on your feet…

What’s The World Record For Ice Speed Skating?

What about ice? Well, it’s a bit difficult to find a stretch that goes downhill. Though some genius came up with the idea. It’s about one of the scariest things I’ve seen:

But when it comes to the record for fastest on ice, it goes to Kjeld Nuis hitting 93kph on the flat. He was protected by a wind barrier to reach this speed.

“I’ve just skated 50 percent faster than my fastest race ever. At that race I skated 60kph [36mph], just now 93kph [58mph]. So bizarre! The natural ice was perfect but still a bit bobbly. I actually flew over that. My skates were really shaking like crazy and that was actually way more exciting than I expected.”

Kjeld Nuis on his world record beating run

If you liked the video of fast skating on ice downhill, but thought to yourself ‘this could really use more corners, trees, and dogs’, then you’re in luck:

Who Is The Fastest Competitive Speed Skater In The World?

Let’s look at both ice speed skating and inline speed skating and see how they compare….

The answer to this question is it depends when you’re reading this. I’m sure by the time you read this it may change. It seems to change every couple of years or so. And I’m not sure I can be bothered to keep coming back to this page and updating it, do your own bloody research! (just kidding: please enjoy mine… it took a while on a lonely weeknight)

Let’s have a look at some in the 2010s. If you’re reading this is 2030 and I haven’t bothered to update it, let’s say it will be a similar sort of time. Maybe they’ll shave a minute or two off.

Between inline and ice skating, they’re pretty close. Interestingly, they seem to stay pretty fast whether they’re doing 300 metres or 10,000, which is impressive.

Who’s Faster – Ice Skaters or Inline Skaters?

To do 500m, Simon Albrecht of Germany did it in on a track on inline skates in 38.6 second in 2014, whereas the Russian Pavel Kulizhnikov managed the same distance on ice in 33.6 seconds, a whole 5 seconds quicker. This makes sense because there’s less friction on ice. Though if it had been the other way around I feel people would have said “this makes sense, it’s easier to apply your force on wheels” or something.

Interesting fact: The men’s 500m was broken twice that day, first by Tatsuya Shinhama at 33.83 seconds before Kulizhnikov beat that time.

So ice skating is faster on the flat.

Pavel’s average speed was 33.28 mph.

The shorter distance of inline racing on a track, if you’re interested:

300m men, Simon Albrecht of Germany did this as well, in 23 seconds in 2014, Korean Shin Soyeong did the female fastest of 25.7 seconds in 2015.

What About Over A Longer Distance?

Again, ice has it.

10000 meters or as also known, 10 kilometres.

For inline skating, this record was obtained by the aforementioned Alexis Contin in 13 min 46 seconds, whereas on the ice, Ted-Jan Bloemen of Canada smashed it in 12 min 36 seconds. This is an average speed of 29.58mph (47.6 kph), which is an astonishing pace to be travelling for 10km. He kept up that blistering sprint-like pace for 12 and a half minutes. Imagine running 90% as fast as you can, basically a flat out sprint, and then keeping it up for 12 minutes, as oppose to say, 12 seconds.

Who’s The Fastest Female Speed Skater In The World?

Well, there’s a whole bunch. Here’s some interesting inline skating ones:

Annie Lambrechts of Belgium holds the current record (according to Wikipedia) for 20 km, 30 km and 50km on a pair of inline skates. Guess when she took these records? In 1985. Before you were born (possibly…). Also between 1964 and 1981 she won a few individual world championships, as it happens, seventeen.

She did 20k in 32 minutes 53 seconds, 30k in 49 minutes 15 seconds, and 50k in 1 hour 21 minutes and 21 seconds. As far as I can tell this was the same race.

The current fastest over a shorter distance is Shin Soyeong of South Korea, who did 300m in 25.7 seconds, an average speed of 26.1 mph (42 kph).

What about speed on ice?

Well, mirroring the inline skating records for long distance, we have one dominating several long distnaces, and holding the records for 3km, 5km and 10km is Martina Sáblíková, achieving 3 minutes 52, 6 minutes 42, and 13 minutes 48 respectively. Of course this isn’t going quite as far as Annie Lambrechts at 50k. Martina’s average speed for each was 28.9, 27.8 and 27 mph.

How Fast Do Speed Skaters Do Marathons?

In short, quicker than the runners do. Of course, this is to be expected…

On the road, on a pair of skates, going the marathon distance 49,125m we have Bart Swings from Belgium clocking in under one hour at 56 minutes 49 seconds in 2015 in Berlin. Maira Yaqueline Arias of Argentina did so in just over an hour at 1 hour 6 minutes and 35 seconds in 2017, again in Berlin. This is about twice as fast as the fastest marathon runners.

Related Questions

Is skating faster than running? Yes it is, both ice skating and inline skating reach much higher speeds than the fastest sprinter on earth. On the flat they get a little bit faster – though not much mind you. Usain Bolt was clocked at an unbelievable 27.8mph (44.6kph), whereas both ice and inline skaters regularly exceed 30 mph on the flat. I mean, they do have wheels after all… But when it comes to shorter distances like 100m, Bolt can run 100m faster than the fastest inliner can do that distance however…

It’s close, but Bolt would take it…

Watch them run…

Why do speed skaters wear tight clothes? To go fast. It seems obvious. They often test different clothing types in wind tunnels to determine its wind resistance. They hopefully do other tests to determine the optimum type of clothing you want to be skating in, and tight clothes seem to come out on top. You wouldn’t want your skirt flapping in the wind would you?

Are fast skaters fast runners? Yes but not amazingly so. They won’t be as fast as professional sprinters, or as good as professional long distance runners because they don’t train for that. The muscles they’re using are different as well because with skates you are pushing off forwards and outwards. They’ll just be fast because there’s a little bit of overlap and if you watch the 100 m inline sprint above you can see the similarity to the extent that they’re essentially running with wheels on their feet to accelerate at the beginning.

Average roller skating speed? Well, this really depends on who’s on the roller skates. It could be as slow as 3 mph in a roller disco. Or much much faster as detailed above.