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History of

Short Track Speed Skating

In short track speed skating, athletes compete not against the clock, but against each other. This introduces the elements of strategy, bravery and skill needed for racing.

North American Origin

Short track (or indoor) speed skating began in Canada and the United States of America, where they held mass-start competitions on an oval track as early as 1905-1906. The lack of 400m long tracks led many North American skaters to practice on ice rinks. However, practicing on a smaller track brought new challenges, like tighter turns and shorter straightaways, which lead to different techniques in order to win on a shorter track. These countries began competing against each other on an annual basis. The sport’s rise in popularity was partly thanks to the North American racing rules, which introduced a “pack” style of racing. Capitalising on this, the organisers of the 1932 Lake Placid Games, with the consent of the International Skating Union (ISU), agreed to follow these rules for the programme’s speed skating events.

International Recognition

Countries such as Great Britain, Australia, Belgium, France and Japan deserve a great deal of credit in the development of the sport, since they participated in international open competitions before the sport was recognized by the International Skating Union. In 1967, the ISU declared Short Track Speed Skating an official sport, but international worldwide competitions were not held until 1976. During this period of time, countries kept competing amongst themselves.