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Why do speed skaters wear glasses in the Winter Olympics?

They're not just to look cool.

BEIJING, China — Many sports in the Winter Olympics come with some seriously cool (or weird) gear. While everything has a purpose, some equipment leaves fans with questions -- like speed skaters' glasses. 

According to Google Trends, many viewers in the U.S. were searching "why do speed skaters wear glasses" Monday night as the women's 1500m race aired during primetime coverage. 

Why do speed skaters wear glasses in the Olympics?

According to NBC Olympics, the answer for the first question is pretty simple: The athletes are going extremely fast, so they need some extra eye protection to help them see and keep their eyes from tearing up in the wind. 

So how fast are they going? The record for men in the 500 meters, which is the shortest race, is 33.61 seconds. That was set in 2019, according to Guinness World Records. That makes the average speed 33.3 mph. The men's 1,000-meter world record is 1:05.69 set in 2020. Since the skater spends more time closer to full speed than accelerating from a dead stop, that brings the average speed up to 34.1 mph.

READ MORE: What is the fastest sport at the Winter Olympics?

The world record for women's 500-meter speedskating is 41.936 seconds (26.7 mph) set in 2019. For 1,000 meters, it's 1:11.69 (31.2 mph) also set in 2019.

But because of wind resistance and the turns on a skating oval, skaters can't reach their maximum possible speed. Dutch skater Kjeld Nuis, a two-time gold medalist, took on this challenge in 2018 with Red Bull. Nuis skated at full speed on a long, outdoor straightaway. In front of him was a pickup that was pulling a large windshield meant to eliminate any wind resistance. Nuis reached a speed of 57.788 mph.

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