Continuing with our look at the different events we are looking forward to seeing at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018 we are going to look at another of the fastest events taking place, Short Track Speed Skating. This event sees groups of competitors racing around the rink over short distances; this is the winter version of the Summer Olympics track events.
What is Short Track?
Short Track races take place over the distances, 500m, 1000m and 1500m. There are also relay events 3000m for the Women’s and 5000m for the Men’s. The 500m events are all out sprints only lasting 4 ½ laps, the 1000m and 1500m become more tactful as athletes need to preserve energy for the final laps. The relay races can easily confuse the average spectator as each team consists of 4 athletes and they can interchange as often as they like with only a minimum of 2 laps allowed between interchanges.
What are the rules?
The rules for qualifying are simple, each skater will compete in a race consisting of 4-6 people and the fastest 2 will qualify for the next round. The races will continue until the final standings show the top 8 skaters. However there are a few rules that can lead to immediate disqualification.
Impeding – Where an athlete deliberately blocks or pushes another competitor
False starts – Each athlete is allowed one false start but a second leads to disqualification
Off Track – Where an athlete skates inside the turn markers
Slowing Down – When an athlete is seen to be unnecessarily slowing down and impeding others
Team Skating – Where two or more skaters conspire to affect the outcome of the race
Kicking Out – When skaters are seen to deliberately kick an opponent or attempt to throw themselves across the finish line
Who to look out for
In the Men’s events there is one man who has been dominant in this sport for years and is the most decorated Olympic skater of all time, Viktor Ahn. He competed in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics for his birth nation South Korea but, after a conflict with the Korean Skating Union and missing out on qualification for the 2010 Olympics, Ahn became a Russian citizen and took home 3 golds and a bronze at Sochi 2014. He will surely be looking to repeat this form now back in his birth nation.
In the women’s events British athlete Elise Christie will be looking to make amends for her efforts in 2014 where she entered as a medal favourite in all competitions but was disqualified from the 500m for a collision in the final, the 1500m lead to her being disqualified in the heats for going Off Track on the home straight and in the 1000m Christie was disqualified for a semi final collision. Christie has bounced back strong becoming a triple World Champion in March 2017 but there will be strong competition from South Korean athletes Park Seung-Hi and Shim Suk-hee as the pair took home 5 medals across all events last year.
Written by Imran Ali