Short Track Speed Skating
SHORT-TRACK SPEED SKATING
NORTH AMERICAN ORIGIN
Short-track speed skating began in Canada and the United States of America, where they held mass start competitions on an oval track as early as the beginning of the 20th century. The lack of 400 m long tracks led many North American skaters to practice on ice rinks. However, practicing on a smaller track brought new challenges, like tighter turns and shorter straightaways, which lead to different techniques to win on a shorter track. These countries began competing against each other on an annual basis. The sport's rise in popularity was partly thanks to the North American racing rules, which introduced a “pack” racing style. Capitalizing on this, the 1932 Lake Placid Games organisers, with the International Skating Union’s (ISU) consent, agreed to follow these rules for the programme’s speed skating events.
Countries such as Great Britain, Australia, Belgium, France, and Japan deserve a great deal of credit in developing the sport since they participated in open international competitions before the International Skating Union recognized it. In 1967, the ISU declared Short Track Speed Skating an official sport. However, international competitions were not held until 1976.
After having been a demonstration sport at the Olympic Games Calgary 1988, short track speed skating became part of the Olympic programme in Albertville in 1992, with two individual events and two relays. The discipline comprises of men’s and women’s events. Since the Olympic Games Turin 2006, the programme of this discipline has included eight events.
In Italy, the movement has grown strongly in recent years and has found a splendid interpreter in Arianna Fontana, one gold, two silver and five bronze Olympic medals, Italian flag bearer at the Olympic Games PyeongChang 2016.
It quickly became popular with the public, who are thrilled to watch rapid races on tight tracks. The skater's race so close to each other that collisions and falls are inevitable, which is why the walls of the speed skating oval are padded.
THE RISE OF ASIAN COUNTRIES
In recent Olympic Games, China and Korea have emerged to challenge North America's dominance in this event. Indeed, at the Olympic Games Turin 2006, South Korea emerged as the nation to beat, winning an incredible six gold medals and ten medals in total.
On the 111,12 metres long track, men and women compete in 500 m, 1.000 m, and 1.500 m. There is also a men's 5.000 m relay and a women's 3.000 m relay. In each event, the skaters are engaged in a series of knockout rounds until the finalists for the medals are determined.