Olympic Sports >> Short-Track Speedskating

Short-Track Speedskating

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The Competition

Objective

To skate various distances as fast as possible counter-clockwise around a short circuit laid out with markers on a covered ice rink. Races generally feature four skaters and the competitor who crosses the finish line is declared the winner. Race times are not taken into account.

8 Events (4 for men, 4 for women)

500m (men and women), 1000m (m/w), 1500m (m/w), 5000m relay (men), 3000m relay (women)

Venue

Pacific Coliseum

Competition dates

February 13, 17, 20, 24 and 26

The Format

Individual races

Competitors skate in groups of four in each individual race and the top two qualify for the next round. This process continues through the semi-finals and the finals. There is a consolation final which determines places 5 through to 8. The first skater across the line wins.

Relays

8 teams of four skaters. There are four skaters in each team. Changeovers can take place anywhere but usually occur on the straights and are confirmed by the skater on the circuit touching the skater about to replace him/her.

Appeals

Numerous appeals are launched as a result of the frequent falls and accidents. Disqualifications are frequent and standings often changed.

Important dates

  • 20,000 BC : The first blades for skates made from bone.
  • 13 century : Iron skates used in the Netherlands.
  • 16th century : Races organised on frozen canals
  • 1892 : International Skating Union (ISU) created.
  • Late 19th century : Short track begins in Europe and spreads to the US and Canada.
  • 1932 : Scandinavians cry foul at Lake Placid Games when organisers introduce elements of short track into speed skating events.
  • 1940-1950 : Short track spreads to Australia and Asia.
  • 1967 : ISU finally recognizes short track.
  • 1981 : First official world championships held near Paris.
  • 1992 : Short track becomes an offical Olympic event at Albertville, where there are four disciplines.
  • 1994 : There are two extra disciplines at Lillehammer: the 500m men and the 1000m women.
  • 2002 : The 1500m race for men and women is added to the Olympic agenda at Salt Lake City.

Stars

Cathy Turner (USA)

United States champion aged 17, Cathy Turner suffered a burn-out, temporarily giving up the sport to become a singer. Came back with a vengeance eight years later at the 1992 Games at Albertville, winning gold in the 500m. Retained her title in 1994 at Lillehammer. Also helped the US to a silver medal in the relay in 1992 and bronze in 1994.

Kim Ki-Hoon (South Korea)

The symbol of South Korean dominance along with Chun Lee-kyung. Double gold medal winner in the 1000m dicipline at Albertville in 1992 and Lillehammer in 1994. World champion in 1992. Recovered successfully from a nasty injury in the same year in which a major artery was severed.

Yang Yang A (CHN)

A record second to none: Four Olympic medals including two gold (500m, 1000m) in 2002. Won a staggering 27 world titles from 1997 to 2003. Unbeaten between 1999 and 202, and winner of four straight World Cup overall titles.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.