Skaters reach speeds of up to 50 kmph on blades 46cm long and only 1mm thick. It is a highly tactical and physically demanding sport, with split-second decision making and race strategy playing a crucial role in racing. Speed skating sees skaters going head-to-head in races of 4 to 6 skaters in a knock-out style competition. Short track skating is done on a 111.12-metre oval track on a standard size ice rink (30m x 60m) with skaters travelling in an anti-clockwise direction.
Short track is a non-contact sport; however there are no barriers or lanes to separate the skaters so there are frequent collisions and falls in competition, making it one of the most exciting winter sports to watch. Skaters compete over a number of distances including:
3000-metre relay for women
5000-metre relay for men
With skaters travelling at such high speeds in such close proximity to other athletes, protective equipment is vital. Skaters wear helmets, glasses, knee, shin and neck guards, and cut resistant suit and gloves to protect against the extremely sharp blades. Short track boots lace higher up the ankle and have a longer blade than traditional skates. Boots are custom made and are constructed with heavier materials that help stabilise the foot and ankle around corners. Blades are extremely sharp and are bent in an arc that mirrors the direction of the turn, which helps skaters grip the ice around corners. The blades are also placed off-centre to the left so the boot does not touch the ice when the skater leans into the turn.