Short Track Speed Skating
What's it all about?
Have you ever played a racing game where the track was packed with quick twists and turns? Forcing you to speed up or stop on a dime so you don’t lose control of your little pixel car? Now imagine the same thing on ice skates. That, friends, is short track speed skating.
How it's played
The sport: Similar to long track speed skating, but takes place on a 111m oval instead of a 400m oval. That means there are lots of fast, tight turns.
The events: Nine events, with 500m, 1000m and 1500m individual races. Plus 3000m and 5000m relay races. New to Beijing 2022 is the 2000m mixed team relay race, where men and women compete together. (See pictures below.)
The equipment: Speed skates, special gloves for balancing and preventing cuts on the ice, and helmets.
The strategy: Pacing and timing are key. But when skaters pass each other they can't touch or they can be disqualified.
The points: Four to six skaters race at a time in what are called heats. The fastest skaters in each heat move on to the next round.
The athletes: These athletes are trained for speed, agility and endurance. Just being fast isn’t enough, as skaters must be able to handle quick turns.
Did you know? Short track speed skating is Canada's second-most successful sport, with 33 medals won so far! Our most successful sport is speed skating, which is actually a different sport!
Things to watch for
The needs for speed
- The blades on a short track speed skating skate are off centre, to the left.
- That’s so that the boot doesn't touch the ice when skaters lean in on the curves.
- They also have gloves with hard fingertips to help them glide on the ice during turns.
Push don't pass
- In the relay, teams have four skaters each and there are four teams on the ice at a time.
- Rather than pass a baton, teammates push the next skater to give them a speed boost.
- If a skater falls, a teammate can tag them and take over their part of the race.
Mix it up!
- The new 2000m mixed team relay event will premiere at Beijing 2022.
- Teams of two women and two men will each race two and a half laps, twice.
- If a skater wipes out, only a teammate of the same gender can tag in to continue.
Short track speed skating became an official Olympic event at the Olympic Winter Games Albertville 1992.
Some skaters believe that the colour blue makes them faster than other colours. But some believe the color red makes you faster. You’ll notice many of the suits the athletes wear have at least one of these colours.
Sometimes a skater will leap out of the starting area before the starting shot is fired. This is a false start, and if the skater does it again, they get disqualified from the race.