Short track speed skaters fly around a 111.12-meter oval at speeds that exceed 30 miles per hour.
It takes strength, aerodynamics and strategy as short track races are determined by who crosses the line first, not time. The finishing times in various heats differ based on variables including how close the field is bunched together and if there are abundant passes.
“You have to have not only the speed, but you have to have the technical part, you also have to have the racing part and know that, ‘Okay, I’m going against a world champion, I’m going against a world record holder, what do I need to do to block them on the inside and the outside at the same time.'” American short track skater Maame Biney said before the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Short track skaters perform in several distances including the 500m, 1000m and 1500m.
China’s Wu Dajing skated the fastest race of the men’s 500m heats on Friday with a time of 40.23 seconds, which is 12.4 meters per second on average. That comes out to 27.8 miles per hour. His fastest lap was 8.16 seconds for an average of 30.5 miles per hour.
Ren Ziwei, also of China, raced an 8.66-second lap in the men’s 1000m semifinal en route to winning gold in the middle distance.
That rounds out to 28.7 miles per hour.
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Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands set the world record in the women’s 1000m quarterfinals on Friday. Her fastest lap was 8.87, which comes out to 28 miles per hour.
Long track speed skating is much different as timing is everything, and the oval is 400 meters. It also involves longer races including the 5000m and men’s 10,000m.
Sweden’s Nils van der Poel set the world record to win the men’s 10,000m on Friday. His final lap, the fastest of the medal-winning skate, was 28.60 seconds for an average of 31.29 miles per hour.