Short Track Speed Skating is a form of ice speed skating in which competitors cover the distance of 111,12 meters on an oval track as fast as they can. The competitions are held among women and men racing the distances of 1 500 m, 500 m, 1 000 m and include 3 000 m women’s relay races and 5 000 m men’s relay races.
Sports Disciplines included into the Winter Universiade 2019
500m Short Track Speed Skating
This skating race demands high speed and strength from athletes to start the race. The athlete's starting position plays a very significant role. Athletes run 4.5 laps. Usually not more than 4 competitors take part in a race.
1000 m Short Track Speed Skating
This skating race is a speed race where endurance is also important. Athletes have time for various tactical manoeuvres. Competitors run 9 laps. There may be more than four athletes on the track at a time.
1500 m Short Track Speed Skating
It is the longest individual distance. Athletes run 13.5 laps. There are usually 6 competitors on the track, but there may be more of them. In contrast to 500m and 1 000m speed skating which both include two semi-final races, the 1 500m speed skating involves three semi-finals: two strongest competitors of each group make it further into the final run "А", whereas those who finished third and fourth go on to the final run "В".
Short Track relay race
There are usually 4 teams competing in the race. Each team comprises up to 5 racers, but only 4 of them actually take part in the race, the fifth one is a substitute who remains off the ice. Women have to run the distance of 3 000 m (27 laps), and men cover 5 000 m or 45 laps. It is up to each team to decide how many laps will be run by each team member, but in any case every skater has to run at least one lap and the last two laps have to be covered by the same competitor. Skaters pass their turn to the next competitor by giving them a gentle push.
In terms of how many medals are competed for, Short Track Speed Skating is one of the most prolific competitions with 8 sets of medals at stake.
A lot of supporters consider Short Track Speed Skating quite a recent sport, which is not true – the first competitions took place as early as back in 1906 in Canada.
In 1988, the Olympic Games featured it as a demonstration event, and since 1992 Short Track Speed Skating has been part of the official programme of the Games.
It was exactly in Short Track Speed Skating that the skater from South Korea Kim Yun-Mi set an astounding record becoming an Olympic champion at 13!
Short Track skates are specifically designed for this sport: the blades are offset to the left from the centre and are also at an angle to the ice. It serves to provide the most efficient angle in relation to the ice and guarantee the highest speed on the curves.
Despite the fact that the competitions are held inside a hockey arena with the dimensions of 30×60 m, the ablest of skaters manage to develop the speed of about 50 km per hour covering 13.9 metres in just 1 second.
The skater's gear is comprised of a special elastic skinsuit with protective cut-resistant neck guards, crotch patches and joint and knee pads. Skaters always wear protective helmets, ankle pads and special cut-resistant gloves. Some athletes also wear protective goggles.
Short Track Speed Skating appeared in Russia after our country participated in the World Universiade 1985 in Belluno (Italy). Earlier in 1982, the Ice Skating Federation was closed in Italy. Italian skaters lost their right to participate in ice skating competitions on behalf of their nation, so a decision was made to include a new event in the Universiade programme - Short Track Speed Skating. The USSR received an invitation to build up a team and take part in the competitions. Back in the day people in the Soviet Union had no idea of what this sport was about, so they picked skaters from among students who skated as sprinters. The gear was purchased in Canada.
The Winter Universiade 1985 didn't bring any medals to our national team. However, later in the Universiade Sofia 1989 (Bulgaria) the Russian skater Marina Pylaeva won the silver medal in the 1500m Short Track Speed Skating race. In 1997, the Universiade in Muju (South Korea) brought the Russian skaters two bronze medals, one in the women's 1500m race thanks to the great effort of Elena Tikhanina and the other one in the women's 3000m relay. In 2009, Ruslan Zakharov won the bronze medal in the 1000m race in Harbin (China). The Winter Universiade 2015 that was held in Slovakia and Spain brought the Russian Short Track Team (Dmitry Myasnikov, Kirill Shashin, Eduard Strelkov and Timur Zakharov) the silver medals in the men's 5000m relay.
In Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan) the Russian Short Track Team of Artyom Denisov, Aleksander Koval, Andrey Mikhasyov, Kirill Shashin and Timur Zakharov won another set of siver medals in the men's 5000m relay race.
Totally, the Winter Universiades brought our compatriots three silver and three bronze medals.
The first USSR championship was held in 1988. Most members of the first national Short Track Team of Russia were raised by the Leningrad Short Track Speed Skating School.
Two Short Track Speed Skating championships are held in Russia annually, an all-round championship and a single distances championship (Olympic disciplines).
It is worth mentioning the triumphant performance of the Russian Short Track Team in the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi when the Team of Viktor An, Semyon Yelistratov, Viktor Grigoryev and Roman Zakharov won the gold medals in the 5000m relay, Viktor An became the gold medallist in 1000m and 500m races, as well as the bronze one in the 1500m race becoming the most awarded skater in this discipline. Viktor Grigoryev won the silver medal in the 1000m race. Now Russian athletes hold leading positions in European and World championships.
The previous Olympic Games brought Semyon Yelistratov the bronze medal in the 1500m Short Track Speed Skating race.
The first Russian (USSR) medals in Short Track Speed Skating were won in 1991 during the World Championship in Sydney (Australia) when the Soviet skaters Natalya Isakova, Yulia Allagulova, Yulia Vlasova and Marina Pylayeva won the silver medals in the 3000m relay race.