Visualizing speed skating Olympic medalists

Speed skating is one of my favorite sports to practice and to watch. This winter the Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South-Korea. Will the Dutch be as dominant as they were in Sochi? That will be a big challenge.

Since I was curious about the medal winners in past Olympic events I looked into it and decided to create a visualization about it.

The questions that I had and which are addressed in the viz are described below.

What is the first time, speed skating was held at the Olympics?

Speed skating has been part of the Olympic Winter Games since it’s first edition in 1924. The disciplines held at these games included the men’s 500-metre, 1500-metre, 5000-metre, and 10,000-metre races. Points from the four races were combined and counted towards the all-round event, which was dropped following the 1924 Olympics. The first time woman races were officially added to the winter olympics was not before 1960, though it was a demonstration sport in 1932.

Which country has won the most medals over time?

The Netherlands is the most successful country if we look at the total number of medals. They obtained 105 medals from 1924 till 2014, which is 25 more than Norway and 32 more than Russia/Sovjet Union.

Who is the most successful athlete, male and female?

Claudia Pechstein is the absolute medal leader, male and female, she obtained 9 medals in 4 Olympic Games. She is still active and will look to extend her lead in PyeongChang, though also Ireen Wust, 2nd woman, will be there to beat her. At the men side, there are 3 leaders that all have 7 medals. One of them is Sven Kramer, the men who is dominating speed skating for the last 10 years. The Dutch stayer will probably take the lead this winter, he told that he is aiming for 3 gold medals.

How are medals related to continents?

Speed skating is mainly a European and North America tradition. Since 1992 the Asians also are winning some medals and they are getting better, though it’s mostly limited to the shorter distances. No one from either Africa or Oceania has ever won a medal.

Was it ever cancelled because of a war or poor ice conditions?

The games were not held in 1940 and 1944 because of the 2nd World War. In 1928, the 10km was cancelled halfway through the running because of poor ice conditions. From 1988 in Calgary, the events have been held inside a stadium, but before that, the ice could suffer from bad weather.

The image below is an animated gif of the visualization, the live version and source code is also available.