ASTM F1849-23: Helmets Used in Ice Speed Skating

Group of speed skaters racing who are wearing helmets adhering to ASTM F1849-23.

The origins of speed skating date back over a millennium when people in Scandinavia and the Netherlands added bones to their boots, made from polished shank or the ribs of animals, to rapidly travel across frozen rivers, canals, and lakes. Now, speed skating is one of the fifteen sports to appear in every Winter Olympic Games. ASTM F1849-23: Standard Specification For Helmets Used In Ice Speed Skating (Long Track) And Short Track Speed Ice Skating (Not To Include Hockey) applies to performance requirements for helmets used by speed ice skaters.

What Is ASTM F1849?

ASTM F1849-23 covers performance requirements for helmets used by long track and short track speed ice skaters (excluding hockey). The standard recognizes the desirability of lightweight construction and ventilation. ASTM F1849-23, however, is a performance standard and is not intended to restrict design. All testing and requirements of this standard should be in accordance with ASTM F1446, except where noted.

Partial utilization of this specification is prohibited. Any statement of compliance with this specification must be a certification that the headgear meets all of the requirements of the specification in their entirety. A headgear that fails to meet any one of the requirements of this specification is considered to have failed the specification and should not be sold with any indication that it meets parts of the specification.

What Is the Difference between Short Track and Long Track Speed Skating?

In speed skating, skaters compete against each other to complete a certain distance in the shortest possible time. Long speed skating has been a sport in the Winter Olympics since 1924, while short track speed skating made its Olympic debut in 1994. Both forms of speed skating are fundamentally different from the skates, track, rules, and strategies.

  • Skates: Long track skaters use 40-55-centimeter blades to help them glide faster in a straight line. Short track blades range from 30-45 centimeters. They are shorter and easier to control since there are more dynamic turns. Both blades, however, have a slight bend to assist with the turns.
  • Track: Short-track races take place on a shorter track than speed skating. Short track events include individual races over 500m, 1000m, and 1500m, plus a 5000m relay for men and a 3000m relay for women. Olympic long track events also include individual races in 500m, 1000m, 1500m for both genders. Additionally, men compete in 5000m and 10,000m while women race 3000m and 5000m. The long track’s competition arena has two lines on the ice, so competitors do not normally contact each other. The short track event requires all skaters to depart at the same time at the beginning of the event without lane separations.
  • Rules: Short track races sees athletes competing against each other over a series of rounds, so position counts as the fastest finishers progress to the later rounds. Usually, four to six athletes compete in each race, with heats followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals, and a final. On the other hand, in long track skating there are no heats, semis or finals, just a single round where competitors strive to set the best time and hence competitors race against the clock. Two athletes compete at the same time but it does not matter who finishes first. Instead, what matters are the times they set—decided by their speed. Once every skater has completed their run, the one with the fastest time is declared the winner.
  • Strategies: Short track skating is more “aggressive” than the long-track event in terms of the intense competition between skaters and the winner is decided by who crosses the finish line first. In longer short track races athletes must decide whether to lead from the front to avoid the dangers of the pack, or stay behind and conserve energy.

How Do Uniforms Influence Speed Skating?

Skaters experience a considerable drag from the air as they move across the ice. The drag from air could be the deciding factor between which athlete receives gold and silver due to the milliseconds this force costs the athletes. As a result, speed skaters wear sleek, comfortable, and aerodynamic suits made of specialized materials to reduce drag and improve their performance on the ice. The suit is made of a synthetic material molded to the body shape. Besides a skin tight suit, protective equipment includes knee, shin, and sometimes neck guards to protect against other skaters’ blades as well as hard-shell helmets to prevent potential injuries resulting from crashes with competitors, ice, or sidewalls.

ASTM F1849-23: Standard Specification For Helmets Used In Ice Speed Skating (Long Track) And Short Track Speed Ice Skating (Not To Include Hockey) is available on the ANSI Webstore and in ASTM F1849-23 Red, which contains the International Standard and its Redline version, showing all changes of the technical content compared to the previous edition.

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