Short track speed skating is a form of competitive ice speed skating. In competitions, multiple skaters (typically between four and six) skate on an oval ice track with a circumference of 111.12 m. The rink itself is 60 m by 30 m, which is the same size as an international-sized hockey rink.
Short track speed skating originated in the speed skating events held with mass starts. This form of speed skating was mainly practiced in the United States and Canada, as opposed to the international form, where skaters skated in pairs. At the 1932 Winter Olympics, speed skating events were conducted in the mass start form. Competitions in North America were also held indoors, for example in Madison Square Garden, New York, and therefore on shorter tracks than usual for outdoor skating.
In 1967, the International Skating Union adopted short track speed skating, although it did not organize international competitions until 1976. World Championships have been held since 1981 (though events held in 1976-1980 under different names later received the status of World Championships). After several changes in the name of the competition (last time in 1989), the event is now held annually as the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships.
At the 1988 Winter Olympics, held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, short track was a demonstration sport. It was upgraded to a full Olympic sport in 1992 and has been part of the Winter Olympics since. The programme was expanded from 4 in 1992 to 8 in 2002. The events are the same for both men and women: 500 m, 1000 m, 1500 m and the relay (5000 m (men)/3000 m (women)).
With smaller ice tracks and shorter, often spectacular competitions, short track speed skating has grown more popular than the older long track in many countries.
There are several actions that will result in skaters being disqualified (DQ) from a race, and having their time rendered invalid.
- Impeding (DQI): Pushing, blocking, or otherwise causing an impediment for another skater
- Off track (DQO): Skating outside the designated track
- Cross-tracking (DQX): Deliberately cutting in front of a competitor who is attempting to pass
- Team skating(?): Conspiring with members from the same country, club, or other individual skaters to determine the race result
- Assistance (?): Giving physical assistance to another skater
- Shooting the line or Kicking out (DQK): Driving the foot in lead ahead to reach the finish faster, resulting in the rear foot lifting off the ice and creating a dangerous situation for others
- Unsportsmanlike conduct (DQU): Acting in a manner not befitting an athlete or a role model. Including cursing at a competitor, kicking your feet, striking other skaters or officials, etc.
- Equipment (DQE): Not wearing the proper safety equipment, losing equipment during the race, or exposure of skin not on face or neck.
- False Start (DQS): Leaving before firing of the starter's pistol. Similar to track and field, on the second violation in the race, the offender on that start is disqualified.
- Did not finish (DNF): Usually due to injury, the skater did not finish the race
- Did not skate (DNS): The skater did not go to the starting line.
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