Short Track Speed Skating

Arianna Fontana of Team Italy and Sumire Kikuchi of Team Japan compete during the Women's 1000m Heats on day five of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on February 09, 2022 in Beijing, China.
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Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026

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Short Track Speed Skating

Twenty-five years at high speeds, down to hundredths of a second, scratching the ice without giving in. Present at the Olympics since 1992, short track speed skating is the reign of sprinters, and its queen is Italy's Arianna Fontana. As we look forward to Milano Cortina 2026, let’s learn all about this sport.

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Competitions

In short track speed skating, athletes compete against each other rather than against the clock. This introduces elements such as strategy, courage, and technique to the race. As its name suggests, short track speed skating takes place on a shorter track compared to traditional speed skating (the short track is 111.12 metres long, while the speed skating track is 400 metres long).

The competitions at Milano Cortina 2026 will consist of 9 events: 4 for men, 4 for women and one mixed team event.

  • Men: team relay, 500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m, 5000 m 
  • Women: team relay, 500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m, 3000 m 
  • Mixed team relay: 2000 m

The top two skaters in the individual and team events move on to the next round, which ends in the 'a final' where the skaters compete for medals.

The races will be held in Milano at the Speed Skating Stadium.

Territory

Milano
Milano

Olympic History

After its introduction as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Games in Calgary, short-track speed skating became part of the Olympic programme in Albertville in 1992, with two individual races and two relays. Since the 2006 Olympics in Torino, this discipline has included eight events, while the new mixed team relay was introduced at Beijing 2022.

In Italy, this sport has grown a lot in recent years, with an outstanding representative in Arianna Fontana, who carried Italy's flag at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. With her 11 Olympic medals, she is the most decorated Italian athlete in the history of the Games.

Short track speed skating is becoming more and more popular because it is so exciting! Because the track is so short, the athletes skate on a curve for most of the race, and they have to lean into the turns with their hand touching the ice. Collisions and falls are bound to happen, which is why the walls of the skating oval are padded and the athletes wear protective gear.

Basic Rules

The short track race track is 111.12 metres long, and athletes compete against each other in a series of direct elimination rounds in which the fastest move on to the next round.

A unique feature of short-track speed skating is that the skaters start in groups. In the 500-m and 1000-m races, 5 athletes compete in each heat, while 7 skaters compete in the 1500-m event.

In the mixed relay, each team consists of four athletes: two women and two men. The athletes race in a required order: woman-woman-man-man-woman-woman-man-man.

Helmets are required because the risk of falling is much greater than in speed skating. The tight curves and speed-to-distance ratio mean that athletes use stiff footwear to help them control their trajectory. The blades are also smaller compared to speed skating blades, which means different training is necessary to teach the athletes to lean more into the curve.

Curiosities about Italian Championships

Arianna Fontana is a global legend in short track speed skating. With her 11 medals (2 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze), she has contributed to more than 70 per cent of all medals won by Italian athletes at the Winter Olympic Games.

Italy's first gold medal in short track speed skating at the Olympic Games dates to Lillehammer in 1994 with the 5000-m relay team, made up of Maurizio Carnino, Diego Cattani, Orazio Fagone, Hugo Herrnhof, and Mirko Vuillermin.

FAQ

Here are the answers to your questions.

  • What is the difference between speed skating and short track speed skating?

  • Which male athlete has won the most medals in short track speed skating at the Olympics?

  • Which female athlete has won the most medals in short track speed skating at the Olympics?

  • Which countries have won the most medals at the Olympics?

  • Who are the Italian Olympic champions in short track speed skating?

  • Where will the short track speed skating competitions at Milano Cortina 2026 take place?

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