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. Eventually, the field is winnowed down to a handful of finalists and the first one to cross the finish line is the winner.
There are eight events on the 2010 Olympic program; four for men and four for women. The events are:
Men: 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m relay
Women: 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 3000m relay
Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum will host all short track events, in addition to figure skating. The venue, which already existed but was upgraded for the Games, seats 14,239.
Men's short track
Torino recap: Ohno challenges South Korean dominance
After winning a controversial gold medal in Salt Lake City, Apolo Ohno was out to prove it was no fluke. He stumbled in the semifinals of the 1500m, failing to qualify for the final and defend his gold medal. But he won the 500m, and took bronze in the 1000m and the 5000m relay. South Korea's Ahn Hyun-Soo won three golds (1000m, 1500m and 5000m relay) and a bronze (500m), giving him a medal in every men's event. Teammate Lee Ho-Suk took silver behind Ahn in the 1000m and 1500m, adding a gold in the relay.
Vancouver preview: Another Ohno show?
After winning his eighth consecutive U.S. title in December, Apolo Ohno is on track to qualify for his third Olympics. He won his first overall World Championship title in March 2008, just edging out South Korea's Lee Ho-Suk, who is expected to be Ohno's top competition in Vancouver. The South Korean team should be just as deep as in Torino, with the emergence of Song Kyung-Taek and Lee Seung-Hoo, who finished third and fourth in the 2008 Worlds overall standings. Ahn Hyun-Soo sat out the 2008-09 season because of injury, but should be back for Vancouver. Behind them in fifth was American Charles Ryan Leveille, who competed in Torino in long track speed skating. At the 2009 Worlds, J.R. Celski posted the best American finish, coming in second overall to Lee Ho-Suk.
Women's short track
Torino recap: Chinese women break through
Though the South Koreans have long dominated short track, the Chinese women presented a formidable challenge in 2006. The Chinese could have capped off a break-out performance with gold in the 3000m relay, but were disqualified for bumping Canada after leading most of the race. Still, the Chinese women took home four medals (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze), tying South Korea's haul (3 golds, 1 silver). China's Meng Wang took home a medal of each color, while South Korea's Jin Sun-Yu collected three golds.
Vancouver preview: Chinese vs. South Koreans
South Korea and China remain the superpowers in women's short track, with China gaining ground since Torino. Wang Meng has steadily improved, winning the 500m, 1000m and 1500m titles at the 2008 World Championships, to take the overall title by a wide margin. Second in the overall standings was China's Zhou Yang. South Korea's Yang Shin-Young was a distant third, but she should be a factor in every event in Vancouver. The Americans have no medal locks, but Allison Baver, who competed in Torino, and Katherine Reutter appear to be the best hopes.