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Short-track Speed Skating, XX Winter Olympic Games Torino 2006

Short track speed skating is a form of ice skating very similar to speed skating, where a number of skaters (typically 4 to 6) compete simultaneously on a short indoor ice track 111 m long.

EVENTS

Short-track Speed Skating at the 2006 Winter Olympics will be held in the town of Torino, at the newly built Palavela, inside the Lingotto Olympic District, from February 13 to February 24.

HISTORY

The sport of short track speed skating originates in the speed skating events held with mass starts. This form of speed skating was mainly practised in the United States and Canada, as opposed to the international form, where skaters skated in pairs. At the 1932 Olympic Winter Games, speed skating events were conducted in mass start form. Competitions in North America were also held indoors, for example in Madison Square Garden, New York, and therefore on shorter tracks than was usual for outdoor skating.

In 1967, the International Skating Union (ISU) adopted short track speed skating, and international events started in 1976. World Championships have been held since 1981.

At the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, held in Calgary, Canada, short track was a demonstration sport. The status was upgraded to a full Olympic sport four years later, and short track speed skating has been an Olympic sport since then.

Canada has long been a dominant country in the sport, but currently the sport is highly popular in many Asian countries, notably The People's Republic of China, South Korea and Japan, which has its reflections on the international events.

RULES OF SHORT-TRACK SPEED SKATING

What is important in this sport is to compete against each other skater, time is secondary. At the Olympic Games, Short Track Speed Skating consists of eight events. Women and Men compete in 500m, 1000m, and 1500m. There is also a 5000m relay for men, and a 3000m relay for women.

Short track speed skating is an elimination event in which athletes race in packs and try to outskate and outwit fellow competitors within their heats. The winner is the first one who cross the finish line.

The men's and women's short track relays are two-day competitions where there are a semi-final and a final. There are eight teams divided into two groups of four. The top two teams in each semi-final advance to the final.

Individual competitions begin with 32 athletes. Individual heats feature four skaters at a time in a mass start. Athletes skate counter-clockwise, and the first two across the finish line advance to the next round.

EQUIPMENT

  • Gloves are very important to protect skaters' hands from blades, because the hand is placed on the ice to help maintain balance when curving.
  • Goggles worn to protect eyes from wind and ice chips. Tinted lenses give a better visibility.
  • Helmet , to prevent potential head injuries when crushing with competitors, side walls or ice.
  • Protective Wear , such as knee, shin, and neck guards to protect from the blades of the skater in front.
  • Skates: boots at lace higher up the ankle than traditional ones and are constructed from customised foot moulds and with heavier materials to help stabilise the foot and ankle around corners. Blades are extremely sharp and are used also for the direction of the turn.
  • Skin tight suit, useful to reduce wind resistance.

[ part of the text above is derived from Wikipedia and is subject to the GNU licence]
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