This is the first installment in a three-part series about the efforts of Obihiro, as the nation's speedskating hub, to nurture young skaters to become future Olympians.

“Start!" With the calls in English from coach Tucker Fredricks, 38, a former speedskater representing the United States, five high school students began practicing on their training bicycles at a speedskating facility in Obihiro in the Tokachi region of Hokkaido.

Practice of a leading country