Short track speed skating, a sport that tests the speed, technical skating ability, and aggressiveness of its competitors. Unlike traditional long-track speed skating, contestants race against each other instead of the clock.
It originated in Canada in the 1880s when some speed skaters in Canada used to practice on the indoor ice hockey rink. As a result, indoor speed skating competitions were born. In 1988, short track speed skating was first listed as a winter Olympic sport in Calgary, and it was only in 1992 that the winter Olympics in Albertville became an official event.
Racing in groups of four to eight contestants, skaters compete on an indoor track the size of a hockey rink with a lap length of 111 metres (364 feet). The top two finishers from each heat advance to the next round. Passing strategies and pacing are important components of the sport. Contact often occurs as skaters jockey for position. Because of the sharp turns at high speeds, a special speed skate, one with a taller blade and higher boot, is used to provide extra support for the skater. Falls are common in short track speed skating racing, and skaters wear protective pads on their elbows and knees, as well as helmets and gloves. The walls of the track are also padded. Individual short-track races are held over 500 metres, 1,000 metres, 1,500 metres, and 3,000 metres for both men and women. Four-person relays cover distances of 3,000 metres (women) and 5,000 metres (men).