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     The big issue: The Klap skate, first developed the late 1890's, has been revived and is revolutionizing the sport. Similar to cross country skiing, the boot lifts from the blade but the blade itself continues to glide on the ice. The skate was approved by the International Skating Union and world records are expected to be lowered at the Olympics.
      The contenders: In the women's sprints, Germany's Franziska Schenk was dominant claiming world championship and World Cup titles in 1996-97. For the men, Japan is a veritable force but a have a reputation to crumble at the big events. Watch for Russia's Sergej Klevchenya and emerging American Casey Fitz-Randolph. In the longer distances, multiple world champion Gunda Niemann of Germany is still the dominant woman while the Dutch speed skaters led by Ids Postma should claim their fair share of medals in the men's distance races
      Canadian top medal hopes: Neal Marshall in the men's 1,500; Susan Auch and Catriona Le May Doan in the women's 500; Jeremy Wotherspoon, Kevin Overland and Sylvain Bouchard in the men's 1,000.
      The sport: Long track speed skaters are the fastest self-propelled athletes in the world reaching speeds near 60 kilometres and hour. Competitors are paired based on ranking and compete on a 400-metre oval. The events are the 500, 1,000, 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 for the men; 500, 1,000, 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 for the women. The 500 and 1,000 are called sprints; the other events are termed distance races.
      What's new: In the 500 each skater will race twice and ranking will be based on the fastest combined time.