Short track: history, rules, peculiarities of equipment

Short track

In the article “Short track” we will tell a brief history of the origin of this amazing sport, as well as talk about the principles and basic rules.

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Short track is one of the most exciting forms of speed skating. This dynamic discipline, which takes place on a specially prepared rink, combines speed, agility and uncompromising competition. One of the main features of short track speed skating is its unpredictability, which makes the races even more exciting for spectators.

Short track at the 1992 Olympics
Short track at the 1992 Olympics

The history of short track began in Canada in the 1970s. It was originally developed as a regular speed skating training for hockey players, but quickly became an independent discipline.

The sport was first introduced at the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, France. Since then, short track has been gaining popularity around the world, attracting both professional athletes and active lifestyle enthusiasts.

Short track appeared in our country only in 1985. This event was preceded by the unsatisfactory performance of sprint skaters at the World Universiade in Italy. This sport was not cultivated in the USSR, so it is not surprising that the athletes returned empty-handed.

Victor An 2014
Victor An 2014

The first medal of the Soviet short track team was won by Marina Pylayeva in 1989, winning silver at the Universiade in Bulgaria. In 2004, Tatiana Borodulina became European champion, bringing the first gold medal to Russia, but the absolute record holder of our national team is Viktor Аn, six-time Olympic champion, 20-time world champion.

The clear leaders on the world stage are athletes from South Korea, China and Canada. Russia is on the 7th place in this list, but we have a great potential, which we will be able to realize in the near future.

The main feature of short track speed skating is its distance. Athletes have to cover only 111,111 meters per lap. Such a short track requires maximum speed and agility from the participants. The races are held in a hockey arena, but the boards are inflatable.

Short track playground
Short track playground

The inflatable fence was invented for a reason, because short track is one of the most dangerous sports, as not a single competition was without falls. The ice on the court is different, it is softer than for hockey or figure skating.

The softness of the ice is achieved by a temperature of -4°C, whereas in ice hockey it is -8°C. Soft ice allows athletes to take turns more smoothly and the grip of the skate on the ice becomes better.

There are several distances used in short track speed skating: 500 meters, 1000 meters, 1500 meters and relay races of 2000, 3000 and 5000 meters. To complete the entire distance, athletes must run several laps around a stadium track. From 4 to 8 athletes start and during the relay race they can change as needed, except for the last two laps when it is forbidden to change participants.

Short track relay race
Short track relay race

The 2000, 3000 and 5000 meter relay races require the team to be perfectly synchronized and everyone must be able to distribute effort in such a way as to achieve maximum speed and ensure efficient shifts.

Change of pace is a hallmark of short track, involving constant twists and turns. For example, to run 1000 meters, speed skaters need to circle the stadium 9 times. Because of this, athletes are constantly changing their technique, slowing down on turns and accelerating up to 50 km/hour on straight sections.

All races are held with strict rules and safety requirements to minimize risks for the participants. Therefore, athletes are obliged to wear protective equipment including helmet, kneepads, elbow pads, gloves with reinforced protection on the left hand and a collar to protect the carotid artery.

Short track skates are called sabers, and the shoe pads are made from customized casts. The blades of the skates are also personally adjusted, and they are rigidly connected to the boot (claps are prohibited).

Short track skates
Short track skates

The peculiarity of these skates is that the blades are not in the center of the sole, but offset to the left side. Moreover, the blade is also slightly curved to the left. Thanks to this, riders do not hit the ice with their boots on the corners, and therefore do not lose speed.

Fairness is monitored by a referee and timekeeper. Short track speed skating has strict rules, as all races are closely contested. In particular, athletes are not allowed to cut the distance, interfere with other competitors, cross the path of a faster athlete, help their teammates, act in collusion, stay off the track, start early (false start) and not finish the race early (fall).

Judges in short track
Judges in short track

Over the years, short track has shown us many explosive and dramatic moments. Breathtaking finishes, last-meter turns and marvelous overtaking by athletes are just a small part of what happens on the indoor track.

So, if you are not familiar with short track yet, we recommend you to watch the upcoming competitions and discover this amazing sport for yourself. Get ready for incredible emotions, prohibitive speed and incomparable excitement that this incredible sport gives.

Short track, as well as speed skating in general, allows you to develop coordination, agility and balance from the age of 5-6 years. Also, during training there is strengthening of blood vessels and immunity, endurance and flexibility are developed. In addition, the little athlete will learn to think quickly and out-of-the-box, to be responsible for the result.

About short track


Running counterclockwise is not only a standard in short track, but a generally recognized international standard and is associated with the fact that most athletes have a leading right leg, i.e. a push leg.

- Track: in short track, the lap length is 111.12 meters, and in speed skating it is 400 meters.

- Equipment: bedbugs are prohibited in the short track, and the blade of the skates is shorter by 10 cm and shifted to the left side; in the short track, athletes wear gloves, knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet.

- Physique: the height of athletes in speed skating is higher by about 20 cm.

- Strategy: in speed skating you need to show the best time, but in short track you need to come first.

- Distance: Speed skating has longer distances (up to 10,000 meters) and there are no mixed races.

The final "B" in the short track is used for two purposes:

1) Identify the stronger athletes from the losers in the semifinals to earn additional points in the all-around;

2) In case of disqualification in the final "A", there would be an athlete who could be awarded a medal.

( 3 assessment, average 5 from 5 )
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