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Speed skating: Mesmerizing Olympic eye candy

Speed skating is like the synchronized swimming of the Winter Olympics. The moves are graceful, the lines are elegantly long and even though the skaters are racing for gold, one can almost feel a sense of calm seeing athletes smoothly make their way around the track.

Want to catch some of the action? Speed skating events don’t wrap up until Saturday with the men’s and women’s team finals, so you still have a chance to witness this mesmerizing, beautiful sport.

Hannibal Hanschke / Today
Jenny Wolf of Germany and Heather Richardson of USA zip through the Adler Arena during the women's 500 meter at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games on Feb. 11.

Speed skating, which made its Olympic debut in 1924, is typically divided into three types: long track, short track and marathon skating, though the latter is not yet an official Olympic event. 

In basic terms, the sport is sprinting on ice, which sounds like an impossible feat. Yet Dutch speed skater Yvonne Nauta makes it look so effortless.

Quinn Rooney / Today
Yvonne Nauta of the Netherlands practices during a speed skating training session before the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 6.


Issei Kato / Today
Members of Kazakhstan's speed skating team practice at the Adler Arena on Feb. 7.

With a glittering backdrop and ethereal reflections, speed skating is stunning from any angle, which isn't always the case in other sports

Clive Mason / Today
Short track speed skaters Kyle Carr, left, and J.R. Celski of the United States practice in Sochi on Feb. 2.


Srdjan Suki / Today
A Russian female speed skater at a training session in the Adler Arena on Feb. 2.

The brightly-colored uniforms and sweeping nature of the sport make these photographs of two Dutch speed skaters feel like a watercolor painting.

Srdjan Suki / Today
Members of the Dutch team during a short track training session at the Olympic Games in Sochi on Feb. 6.

In even the grandest arenas, spectators eyes hypnotically focus on the skaters winding around the track. 

Tatyana Zenkovich / Today
A picture taken with a tilt-shift lens shows Olympic skaters in action during a practice session at the Adler Arena on Feb. 4.

Samantha Okazaki is a multimedia editor for TODAY.com.

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