The Speed Skating season starts on November 14 with the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Series. The first of seven World Cup events takes place in Obihiro (JPN) on November 14 to 16. Skaters will compete in all distances, including the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, as well as the Ladies' 3000m and Men's 5000m without forgetting the Team Pursuit and Mass Start. As of this season the Mass Start is over 16 instead of 20 laps for both Ladies and Men and the Team Pursuit will be raced over the usual 6 laps for Ladies or 8 laps for Men. Team Sprint is included as a demonstration event, with teams of 3 skaters and a distance of 3 laps for both Ladies and Men.
The following weekend the skaters will have a similar program in Seoul (KOR), the only difference being the long distances will get longer with the Ladies 5000m and Men's 10,000m and the Team Pursuit will not take place. This is the only World Cup Event of the season where the longest distances are raced.
The skaters will then travel to Europe, and have a weekend without competition to get used to the time difference. The third leg of the ISU World Cup will take place in Berlin (GER) on December 5-7 and the fourth in Heerenveen (NED) on December 12-14. The program of both Events will be the same as the one in Obihiro, but without any demonstration event. In Heerenveen the winners of the Team Pursuit will be determined as it will be the last World Cup featuring Team Pursuit races.
In the new year, the allround skaters will meet in Hamar (NOR) on January 31 and February 1 for the 1500m and Ladies' 3000m and Men's 5,000m as well as the Mass Start. The following week the World Cup will go back to Heerenveen (NED) where the Sprinters (500m and 1000m) will compete on February 7 and 8, 2015.
The ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final will take place in Erfurt (GER), March 21-22 where the four distances plus the Mass Start will be raced.
A special prize will be awarded to the best female and male skater, called the 'Grand World Cup winner', based on a grand total of points earned from World Cup races throughout the season.
Qualification for Championships through World Cups
A new qualification system for the ISU Championships was voted last June during the ISU Congress. The first four ISU World Cup Speed Skating Events are now qualifying events for the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships. Previously the qualifications for these Championships were based on the final World Cup rankings (points and time), therefore the event used to take place after the World Cup Series, this season the Championships will take place in February instead of March. The Hamar World Cup is a qualification event for the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships and the second Heerenveen World Cup is the qualifying event for the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships.