Winter Olympics: Everything to know about Speed Skating and Short Track at the 2022 Games in Beijing

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If Curling is sending you to sleep and you’ve no idea what Nordic Skiing even is, then Speed Skating could be the Winter Olympics event for you. It’s fast, it’s furious and it’s a frantic race to the finishing line across a track of ice.

There are a variety of races involving a mixture of individual and team events over various distances. But, put simply, speed skaters are the Usain Bolts, Caster Semenyas and Mo Farahs of the ice rink. Fastest to the finishing line while wearing a pair of skates wins. 

There’s always plenty of drama, and the odd high-speed crash too. Most notably during the Salt Lake Games of 2002 when Australia’s Steven Bradbury claimed what might just be the most unlikely gold medal of all time when all four of his rivals, who had left him trailing by a huge distance, all wiped each other out on the final bend. Even Bradbury could barely believe he had won as he cruised over the line at a snail’s pace. 

There will be two disciplines taking place at the Games in Beijing, being Speed Skating and Short Track Speed Skating, with a combined 22 events in total. 

Sportsmail takes you through everything you need to know for the competition. 

Speed Skating will once again be an enthralling spectacle at this year's Winter Olympics

Speed Skating will once again be an enthralling spectacle at this year’s Winter Olympics

Where is the 2022 venue for the two sports?

The Speed Skating  events will take place at the National Speed Skating Oval, which is housed in the Beijing Zone.

The Oval has been built on top of the Olympic Green Hockey Field and the Olympic Green Archery Field, which were used during the Beijing Summer Games in 2008.

It has been rebranded as ‘The Ice Ribbon, for obvious reasons, and has an area of 12,000 square meters. It also has a capacity of 12,000, but just how many spectators there will be remains to be seen.

The Speed Skating events will take place at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing

The Speed Skating events will take place at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing

Meanwhile, the Short Track events will be held in the Capital Indoor Stadium, which will also host the Figure Skating events. It was used for the volleyball in 2008.   

With the first locally transmitted Omicron case confirmed in Beijing in recent days, Beijing 2022 organisers have pulled the plug on plans to put tickets on general sale, while foreign-based spectators were already prohibited.

Instead, there will be an ‘adapted programme’ inviting groups of spectators.

What is the difference between Speed Skating and Short Track Speed Skating?

Despite the relatively simple premise of speed skating, some of the formats can be complex and there are a number of rules. Most importantly, there is the difference between Speed Skating and Short Track Speed Skating.

Speed Skating is a race against the clock – whoever finishes in the fastest time across a series of races wins.

Short Track Speed Skating pits skater against skater in a head-to-head – whoever crosses the line first wins.

They are classed as different sports in the Winter Olympics.

Because the short track events take place on a smaller rink, that means tighter turns and shorter straights, so technique is more important than power and endurance. The tight track also means more crashes, more falls and more drama.

The tighter skating rink in short track means there are plenty of falls and crashes

The tighter skating rink in short track means there are plenty of falls and crashes

What are the Speed Skating events in Beijing?

In terms of Speed Skating, there are a total of 14 events for men and women. Both men and women compete in separate 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m and 5,000m races, with the men also having a 10,000m event and the women a 3,000m event.

Individual skaters start the race simultaneously in their own lanes, but must switch halfway through, from the ‘out’ lane to the ‘in’ lane, and vice-versa. The skater changing from the outside lane to the inside has right-of-way, with disqualification the punishment for impeding a rival.

Interestingly, if a skater misses their race or falls they have the option to race their distance again, as all results are based on time across the competition, not who wins the individual head-to-head.

Both sexes also compete in Team Pursuit and Mass Start races.

The team pursuit sees two teams of three skaters start at opposite sides of the course and race (eight laps for men, six for women), with the finishing time determined by when the third skater in the team crosses the line. Think of the track cycling team pursuit event at the Olympics and you’re on the right wavelength.

The Mass Start race can involve up to 28 skaters and it’s basically a free-for-all with no designated lanes for 16 laps, with the first three racers to cross the finishing line awarded the medals. But there are also four sprints mid-race where points are awarded for the top three finishers, with the highest number of points won on the final sprint. The racers who do not finish in the top three are then ranked by the number of points they win during the race, rather than the order they cross the finishing line.

What are the Short Track events in Beijing? 

There is an addition to the Short Track schedule this year, being the Mixed Team Relay, which will be making its Olympic debut. 

It will be a 2,000m race consisting of two men and two women, who combine to complete 18 laps in total, with each athlete racing twice. The order will be: woman-woman-man-man-woman-woman-man-man.

Otherwise, there will be a 500m, 1,000m, 1,500m for both men and women, plus a 5,000m men’s relay race, and a 3,000m women’s relay.

Four athletes race in the 500m and 1,000m competitions while six to eight athletes race in the long-distance events. Some physical contact between the athletes is allowed, although pushing, kicking and impeding result in disqualification. 

The track is 111.12m in the Short Track events and 400m for Speed Skating, with timings coming down to a thousandth of a second.  

SPEED SKATING AND SHORT TRACK SCHEDULE

Saturday, Feb 5

Speed Skating: Women’s 3000m (8.30am)

Short Track: Women’s 500m – Heats (11am)

Short Track: Men’s 1000m – Heats (11.48am)

Short Track: Mixed Team Relay – Quarterfinals (12.23pm)

Short Track: Mixed Team Relay – Semifinals (12.53pm)

Short Track: Mixed Team Relay – Final B (1.18pm)

Short Track: Mixed Team Relay – Final A (1.26pm)

Sunday, Feb 6

Speed Skating: Men’s 5000m (8.30am) 

Monday, Feb 7

Speed Skating: Women’s 1500m (8.30am)

Short Track: Women’s 500m – Quarterfinals (11.30am)

Short Track: Men’s 1000m – Quarterfinals (11.44am)

Short Track: Women’s 500m – Semifinals (12.13pm)

Short Track: Men’s 1000m – Semifinals (12.20pm)

Short Track: Women’s 500m – Final B (12.41pm)

Short Track: Women’s 500m – Final A (12.46pm)

Short Track: Men’s 1000m – Final B (12.52pm)

Short Track: Men’s 1000m – Final A (12.58pm)

Tuesday, Feb 8

Speed Skating: Men’s 1500m (10.30am) 

Wednesday, Feb 9

Short Track: Men’s 1500m – Quarterfinals (11am)

Short Track: Women’s 1000m – Heats (11.44am)

Short Track: Women’s 5000m (12pm)

Short Track: Men’s 1500m – Semifinals (12.29pm)

Short Track: Women’s 3000m Relay – Semifinals (12.45pm)

Short Track:  Men’s 1500m – Final B (1.13pm)

Short Track: Men’s 1500m – Final A (1.20pm)

Thursday, Feb 10:

Speed Skating: Women’s 5000m (12pm)

Friday, Feb 11

Speed Skating: Men’s 10000m (8am)

Short Track: Women’s 1000m – Quarterfinals (11am)

Short Track: Men’s 500m – Heats (11.18am)

Short Track: Women’s 1000m – Semifinals (11.55am)

Short Track: Men’s 5000m Relay – Semifinals (12.04pm)

Short Track: Women’s 1000m – Final (12.37pm)

Short Track: Women’s 1000m – Final A (12.43pm) 

Saturday, Feb 12

Speed Skating: Women’s Team Pursuit Quarterfinals (8am)

Speed Skating: Men’s 500m (8.53am) 

Sunday, Feb 13

Speed Skating: Men’s Team Pursuit Quarterfinals (1pm)

Speed Skating: Women’s 500m (1.56pm)

Short Track: Men’s 500m – Quarterfinals (11am)

Short Track: Men’s 500m – Semifinals (11.27am)

Short Track: Women’s 3000m Relay – Final B (11.35am)

Short Track: Women’s 3000m Relay – Final A (11.44am)

Short Track: Men’s 500m – Final B (12.09pm)

Short Track: Men’s 500m – Final A (12.14pm)

Tuesday, Feb 15 

Speed Skating: Women’s Team Pursuit Semifinals (6.30am)

Speed Skating: Men’s Team Pursuit Semifinals (6.52am)

Speed Skating: Women’s Team Pursuit Final D (7.24am)

Speed Skating: Women’s Team Pursuit Final C (7.30am)

Speed Skating: Men’s Team Pursuit Final D (7.43am)

Speed Skating: Men’s Team Pursuit Final C (7.49am)

Speed Skating: Women’s Team Pursuit Final B (8.22am)

Speed Skating: Women’s Team Pursuit Final A (8.28am)

Speed Skating: Men’s Team Pursuit Final B (8.41am)

Speed Skating: Men’s Team Pursuit Final A (8.47am)

Wednesday, Feb 16

Short Track: Women’s 1500m – Quarterfinals (11.30am)

Short Track: Women’s 1500m – Semifinals (12.15pm)

Short Track: Men’s 5000m Relay – Final B (12.32pm)

Short Track: Men’s 5000m Relay – Final A (12.44pm)

Short Track: Women’s 1500m – Final B (1.11pm)

Short Track: Women’s 1500m – Final A (1.18pm)

Thursday, Feb 17

Speed Skating: Women’s 1000m (8.30am)

Friday, Feb 18

Speed Skating: Men’s 1000m (8.30am)

Saturday, Feb 19 

Speed Skating: Men’s Mass Start Semifinals (7am)

Speed Skating: Women’s Mass Start Semifinals (7.45am)

Speed Skating: Men’s Mass Start Final (8.30am)

Speed Skating: Women’s Mass Start Final (9am)

*All UK times 

Who are the athletes to watch in Beijing?

Team GB have only ever won one speed skating medal at the Winter Olympics, with Nicky Gooch claiming a Short Track bronze in 1994.

Attempting to ending a run of nearly 30 years without a metal, Team GB will look to Cornelius Kersten, who is the leading contender in Beijing. In fact, he will be the first Briton in the Long Track event since 1992. 

Alongside Kersten is Niall Treacy, Farrell Treacy and Kathryn Thomson, who will all be competing in the Short Track event.

Meanwhile, the big news is that Erin Jackson, the world’s best women’s 500m skater, will be attending the Games, after Brittany Bowe gave up her spot.

Cornelius Kersten will be the first Brit competing in the Long Track event since 1992

Cornelius Kersten will be the first Brit competing in the Long Track event since 1992

Jackson, who has won four of eight World Cup races this season, slipped in a recent race, finishing third and meaning she failed to qualify – before her long-term friend, who finished second, passed her place along.

Sven Kramer of the Netherlands has won nine Olympic medals and comes into his fifth consecutive Games looking for more.

As for the Short Track events, it’s Korea who are the most successful nation at the Winter Games and they’ll be looking to win the 3000m women’s relay team for a third time in a row.

Choi Min-Jeong, who won gold in PyeongChang and holds the current 500m Olympic record, will once again look to medal in Beijing, though she has suffered with injuries and bad form of late.

Team GB Short Track squad: Kathryn Thomson, Farrell Treacy, Niall Treacy

Team GB Long Track squad: Cornelius Kersten 

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