For the first time in history, the olympic speed skating events will be held indoors, which means that equal conditions will prevail for all skaters and very fast times should result. However, the U.S. skaters, who have been training on the Calgary track since September, have had trouble holding their turns at high speeds, especially in the sprint distances, where they should be quite successful. Bonnie Blair (page 236) can beat the strong East German women at 500 meters if she gets those turns down by the time the Games begin. A skater who has already proved he can hold the turns at the Olympic Oval is Akira Kuroiwa fat right) of Japan, the men's sprint world champion in 1987. His disappointing 10th-place finish in the 500 meters in Sarajevo has spurred him to train hard for Calgary: He has spent three months on artificial ice in Inzell, West Germany, with his coach guiding him by phone from Japan.
Karin Kania, who, under her maiden name of Enke, won medals in all four women's events in '84, again leads a superb East German team. She is tall (5'10"), powerful and unbeatable in the 1,000 and 1,500, and is expected to lower her world records at both distances in Calgary. Teammate Christa Rothenburger would like to repeat as Olympic champ in the 500 but will have to settle for silver if Blair is going strong. Another Olympic veteran from East Germany, Andrea Ehrig, won a silver medal in the 3,000 at Innsbruck at age 15. She won three more medals in Sarajevo and has announced that Calgary will be her last Olympics. Ehrig may go out in style: She's favored in two events.