This is the forerunner of all ice sports: the earliest recorded competitions go back to the 16th century. At that time the Dutch were the only people who skated, on the frozen canals of the low countries. The sport became phenomenally popular in the middle of the last century. It was included in the Northern games in 1901 and became an Olympic sport in 1924.Today speed skaters compete over distances between 500 m and 10,000 m on a 330 to 400 m long circular track. Competitors start two at a time, and since the inner corridor is shorter than the outer, the skaters change corridor every lap in order to cover the same distance.There is now also a new, faster form of speed skating called short-track.Ever since the winter games first began speed skating has been dominated by America, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.