An International Winter Olympic Sport

Introduction of The Sport

Short track speed skating is an International Winter Olympic sport and a form of competitive ice speed skating. In competitions, multiple skaters (typically between four and six) skate on an oval ice track with a circumference of 111.12 m. The rink itself is 60 m by 30 m, which is the same size as an international-sized ice hockey rink.

History of the sport

Short track speed skating originated in the speed skating events held with mass starts. This form of speed skating was mainly practiced in the United States and Canada, as opposed to the international form, where skaters skated in pairs. At the 1932 Winter Olympics, speed skating events were conducted in the mass start form. Competitions in North America were also held indoors, for example in Madison Square Garden, New York, and therefore on shorter tracks than usual for outdoor skating. In 1967, the International Skating Union adopted short track speed skating, although it did not organize international competitions until 1976. World Championship have been held since 1981 (though events held in 1976-1980 under different names later received the status of World Championships). After several changes in the name of the competition (last time in 1989), the event is now held annually as the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships. In February 1985, classic speed skating races were replaced by short track skating at the World Universiade in Italy. At the 1988 Winter Olympics, held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, short track was a demonstration sport. It was upgraded to a full Olympic sport in 1992 and has been part of the Winter Olympics since. The program was expanded from four events in 1992 to eight in 2002. The events are the same for both men and women: 500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m, 3000 m, and the relay ( 5000 m (men) /3000 m (women) ).

Races and Strategies of the Sport

In world championship competition, men and women skate four distances: 500, 1,000, 1,500 and 3,000 metres and relay races over 3,000 metres for women and 5,000 metres for men. The competition lasts three days. The events are skated in the following order: 1,500, 500, 1,000 and 3,000 metres. Instead of racing in pairs as in long track, short track skaters mass start with four to eight skaters on the starting line. Positions are drawn by lot and the competition pits skater against skater. Strategies and tactics are very important in a race. Races are often won by the smartest rather than the fastest skater. In international competitions, skaters must finish among the top two in their heats, quarterfinals and semi-finals to qualify for the 500-metre, 1,000-metre and 1,500-metre finals. Only the skaters who accumulate points in previous finals are eligible for the 3,000-metre final. First place receives 34 points; second place, 21 points; third place, 13 points; fourth place, eight points; fifth place, five points; sixth place, three points; seventh place, two points; and eighth place, one point. The winner of the World Short Track Speed Skating title is the skater with the highest number of final points when the championship ends. The World Cup circuit uses only the 500-metre, 1,000-metre, 1,500-metre and relay races to determine a champion for each distance over the course of the season. Each individual distance is raced eight times, with the top six results for each athlete counting toward the final classification.

Short Track Speed Skating Canadian Team at Sochi Olympics