Short track is one of two different speed skating distances. Like its name suggests it is the shorter of the two, with the longer race being called long track. The distance of a short track race varies but is between 500 meters and 3000 meters long.
In the sport, skaters race around the track trying to be the first one to cross the finish line. The race begins with every skater on the starting line, waiting for the sound to indicate they can start. False starts are very common, and the first offense results in no punishment. Once the race begins, the skaters all go around the track at the same time in what is known as a pack.
The track is an oval shape, measuring 200 feet by 98 feet, roughly the same size as a hockey rink. The track consists of two long straightaways and four turns. Each race requires skaters to go around the track multiple times, and usually lasts about two minutes or less.
Short track is considered a newer sport, with its first recorded race happening just over 100 years ago. Short track started gaining popularity during the 1920s as a dramatic and exciting race. Though it was not until 1988 that the sport was included in the Olympic Games, as an exhibition event. Four years later, at the next Olympic Games, it was awarded full medal status, which is where it stands today.
Short track is included in the Winter Olympics and has four events for both men and women. Each event is a different length race, with some even being relay races. Both men and women compete in the 500 meter, 1000 meter, and 1500 meter races as an individual. The length of team relay differs though, with men racing 5000 meters and women racing 3000 meters.