Winter Olympics 101: Short Track Speed Skating

Have you ever wondered how certain athletes compete in a certain sport and what the secrets are to being the best? Here are all the facts you need to know about short track speed skating:

Short Track Speed Skating


Short track speed skating first appeared at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics as a demonstration discipline, it was not until the 1992 games in Albertville that it became an official part of the Winter Olympics.

What is it?

Short track is a type of speed skating where the athletes compete to cover a 111.12 meter oval ice track as quickly as possible.

Race Specifics

The Olympic races include 500m, 1000m, and 1500m races (for both men and ladies), and relay races at 3000m (ladies) and 5000m (men). Eight sets of medals are awarded.

How do you win?

Short track skaters compete on an elimination basis. Following the group start, skaters use various tactics to be the first to the finish line. The winner is the first over the line and time is not a deciding factor in victory.

The individual competitions involve 32 skaters participating in heats of four athletes at a time. From each group of four, the top two finishers advance to the next round. That continues until the final four are identified, who then compete for the medals.

The relay involves 8 teams of four skaters each. Each team decides for itself the number of laps each athlete will skate. The only exception is the last two laps, which must be covered by the same skater (as long as he has not been injured). The first two teams from each semi-final advance to the final.

Short Track Skates

Short track skates are higher than traditional racing skates. They are made individually for each skater and are made to especially fit the sole of his foot and his ankle while racing. The blades of the skates are extremely sharp, and 40-46 cm long.

Watching the Races

Short track speed skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi. The seating capacity of the facility is 12,000 spectators.

For more on this article, visit Jim Craig’s blog.