Short Track Speed Skating is the term given to a sport performed on a standard size rink, ie 60m x 30m. An oval track of 111m is marked out using conical rubber track markers, and races will have between 3 and 5 skaters racing each other at the same time. Races will be specific lengths, from 222m to 3000m, and may also be team events with relay change overs. The winner is the first skater to get one of his or her blades over the finishing line. Short Track speed skating is a non-contact sport, with the judges deciding whether any physical contact, either accidental or deliberate, should result in a penalty or disqualification from the race.
Top skaters will reach average speeds of 30mph
Skates are low ankle boots with long thin blades attached. The blades can be offset from the centreline to allow the skater to get lower on the bends, and modern blades may be curved slightly to assist in the turns.
Long Track skating is performed on huge 400m oval ice rinks. The rinks are usually so big that one, or maybe two full Olympic size ice rinks are often built inside the race track oval. Skaters race in pairs, usually with a staggered start and lane changes are made each lap to equal out the distance each skater has to cover. Race distances can range from 100m sprints to 10km Marathons, and are measured against the clock.
Speeds of up to 40mph can be reached by the top skaters.
The sport is popular in scandinavian countries, with the Dutch teams being the ones to beat. Other strong competitors have come from Austria, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Japan, Italy, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Russia, Sweden, Czech Rclap skatesepublic and the USA.
Skates are usually low ankle boots with blades attached only at the toe. A spring keeps the heel of the blade in place against the boot, but it is allowed to separate during the push to keep the whole of the blade in contact with the ice for longer. The blades then flick back against the stop, making a loud ‘clap’, hence the name, clap skates