In The Beginning
The roots of ice skating date back over 1,000 years to the frozen canals and waterways of Scandinavia and the Netherlands when men laced animal bones to their footwear and glided across frozen lakes and rivers.
By the 1600’s, traveling on blades between villages had become a useful and enjoyable means of transportation for the Dutch. Surprisingly, credit for the first pair of all-iron skates goes to a Scotsman who invented them in 1592. The iron blade accelerated the spread of speed skating and in 1642 the Skating Club of Edinburgh warmed. In 1763 the world's first organized speed skating race, which covered a distance of slightly more than 24 kilometres, was held on the Fens in England.
Long Track History
Olympic speed skating, or long track as it is known today, made its debut at the first Winter Olympics in 1924 in Chamonix, France and it has been a highlight of the Games ever since. Early Olympic competition was dominated by the Finns and Norwegians; however, the Americans invariably provided stiff competition.
Short Track History
The sport of short track speed skating, characterized by the mass start, originated in Canada and the United States in 1905, with the first known competition to have taken place in 1909. By the 1920s and 1930s, crowds regularly packed New York's Madison Square Garden in anticipation of the thrills and spills that characterize the sport. At the same time, it was gaining popularity in Great Britain, Japan, France, Belgium, and Australia
In 1984 the name of the discipline was changed to Indoor Short Track Speed Skating and the use of a hard shell helmet became mandatory. Another milestone occurred in 1988 when the sport made its Olympic debut as a demonstration event at the Calgary Winter Olympic Games. Full medal status came in 1992 at the Albertville Winter Games.
Credit: Skating Canada web site. You can find the full article here