What is Short Track Speed Skating?

  • Short Track Speed skating is performed with special racing skates on a standard ice rink.
  • The boots are made of varying combinations of leather, kevlar and fibreglass and the blades can be up to 18 inches long and as little as 1 millimetre thick.
  • Skaters of all ages, boys, girls, men and women compete in races with between 4 to 8 skaters in each race, reaching speeds of up to 30 m.p.h., in an anti-clockwise direction round an oval track of 111.12 meters marked out by 14 small rubber blocks on the ice.

There are various age categories.  The youngest race individually over 222 meters (2 laps), 333m (3 laps) and 500m (4 & half laps). As the skater progresses through the age groups the distances increase through Senior level where 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 3000m are skated. Teams of 4 skaters also participate in relay races over 3000m and 5000m and the change over of skaters is accomplished with a push.

At the top level, short track requires a level of all round fitness that at the very least is a match for any sport. The reason for this is the variance in distances skated and the requirement to compete in up to 15 races during the World Championship which lasts 3 days.

Short Track has been Britain’s most successful ice discipline in recent years with Olympic medallists and World and European Champions. Many international short track skaters have come from a background of junior hockey and figure skating including Britain’s most successful Willy O’Reilly who came to the sport from figure skating.

Fact File

  • A speed skater is the fastest self propelled human.
  • Speed skating was the first of the ice sports to develop, as man’s innate need to prove who is fastest found an outlet on the frozen canals and lakes of Northern Europe 1000 years ago
  • The first all iron speed skate in the world is believed to have been made in Scotland in 1572. Prior to that skates were made of bone or wood with metal edges added around 1400.
  • The first known Speed club in the world was The Edinburgh Skating Club.
  • Long Track speed skating is done on a 400m track on a time trial basis.
  • Short Track speed skating is done on a 111m track in a standard hockey rink with 4 to 8 skaters in each race.
  • Top speed achieved in setting the Long Track World Record for 500m was 38mph.
  • Top speed achieved in setting the Short Track World Record for 500m was 30mph
  • There are 7 age groups for racing, Junior are divided into 5 groups up to 19yrs, Seniors are 19 – 35 and Masters are over 35yrs.
  • As with most sports training is aerobic and anaerobic. Speed skaters also train off ice, normally with cycling, weights and plyometrics.


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