Organized Chaos: The Short Track Relay!

0Here is some information for those new to speed skating or need a refresher on the short track relay.

The following information has been taken from the Speed Skate Canada manual.

The 3000m short track relay involves 27 laps around the 111.1m track.  Each team of four skaters is distinguished by their helmet cover (ie green, black, pink, orange etc).  Teams have pre-established their order of skating and their strategy of how many laps they will skate each time it is their turn.  When it is time to switch skaters the incoming skater must be tagged – this is usually in the form of a push.  Many hours are spent perfecting the timing of this push that has to take place between the blue lines on either side of the rink.  The idea is that the incoming skater skates is just inside the cups and enters the exchange zone precisely as the outgoing skater is there.  The incoming skater gets into basic position and braces themselves for a strong push propelling them forward.  Once the outgoing skater pushes, they must clear the track without impeding others. This can be a crowded area as many teams might be attempting this maneouver at the same time!

If a skater falls it is the duty of the other team members to be ready at all times and come onto the skating area to be tagged by hand and then continue skating.  Those in the centre of the ice therefore are getting ready for their turn and are being vigilant for a fall of the primary skater.

The referee is busy watching all skaters for any infractions such as tagging out of the zone and impeding another skater.

Place judges and timers have a busy time as well, keeping track of how many laps are left on their assigned team colour.  They are to have a sheet of paper numbered from 1-27.  As soon as the gun is fired, they mark off the number 27 on their tally sheet as the next time the skater passes the finish line, there will be 26 laps remaining.  Each place judge/timer are to watch only their team.  We will also have a lap counter assigned to each team who have flip cards to directly show the skaters.  The lap counter flip cards are often colour coded and each person will probably be wearing a helmet cover as well!  When the first place coloured relay team has 3.5 laps left, they are to alert the starter who will fire the pistol as the team crosses the line, thereby signalling there are 3 laps remaining.  The gun is only fired for the first place team.

For the skaters, once the gun has signalled 3 laps remaining, there can be only one more skater exchange.  When there are two laps remaining, that skater must complete both unless there is a fall.

It is truly organized chaos as anything can happen in these very exciting races!

Olympic Gold Medal Men’s 5000m Short Track Relay – Vancouver, 2010
(Canada skates for Gold at 14:12 in the video)

Watch Live Speed Skating!


The International Skating Union has now relaxed the restrictions that used to prevent Canadians from watching World Cup speed skating meets from other countries.

Live short track and long track World Cups are available:
ISU link:

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For iOS and Android mobile devices, download the free app, Eurovision
Watch live and archived competitions with this app

Long Track World Cups

November 14-16, 2014 Obihiro, Japan
November, 21-23, 2014 Seoul, Republic of Korea 
December 5-7, 2014  Berlin, Germany
December 12-14, 2014 Heerenveen, Netherlands
January 31-February 1,2015 Hamar, Norway
February 7-8, 2015 Heerenveen, Netherlands
March 21-22, 2015 Erfurt, Germany

Short Track World Cups
November 7-9, 2014 Salt Lake City, Utah
November 14-16, 2014 Montreal, Quebec
December 12-14, 2014 Shanghai, China
December 19-21, 2014 Seoul, Republic of Korea
February 6-8, 2015 Dresden, Germany
March 13-15, 2015 Izmir, Turkey

How to Sharpen Speed Skates

Here is a video by Long Track National Team member Gilmore Junio and Canadian National team equipment technician Reece Derraugh.  These guys know what they are talking about!

Topics covered:

  • How to Sharpen Speed Skates -do’s and don’ts
  • Equipment to be used
  • What is a rocker?
  • What is a burr?
  • How to deburr skates

If you don’t have a sharpening jig or sharpening stones yet, please ask a Speed Skate III skater to sharpen skates for you.  The cost is $8.00 per pair and should be done at least every 4 practices or so.  Please do not have your child skate on dull skates – it is very difficult.  Please see a coach or an older skater to show you how to check for sharpness.

Skate Sharpening Video Link

Not Slowing Down

2014-11-13-not-slowing-down-featuredSarah St. Marie heads into another year with the Lloydminster Border Blades, looking to earn personal bests and move into the elite level of speed skaters.

Andrew Brethauer Photo

Not Slowing Down:  Andrew Brethauer -Lloydminster Source (November 13, 2014)

Sarah St. Marie always wants to be faster. Since putting on her skates 11 years ago, it has been about shaving off every portion of a second she can. And for a speed skater, even the smallest millisecond can be the difference between first and last.

She learned to skate on speedskates, following in her brother’s footsteps after watching him compete. While many children take their first steps on ice with hockey skates, St. Marie did it with the long blade and small rocker of a speed skate, and since then has been flying around tracks, setting personal bests and making personal gains.

It’s as if nothing can slow her down.

“It feels like gravity is pulling you and you are so fast,” said St. Marie. “I feel like I’m on top of the world and nothing can stop me.”

Entering her 12th year as a member of the Lloydminster Border Blades, St. Marie had one goal – under 50 seconds in the 500-metre race [long track race]. She has done it before, most recently in Calgary in January [Alberta Open Long Track meet], when she not only finished with a personal best in her shortest race, but added three other best skates as well.

Her time of 48.40 was the 19th fastest overall in the 500m race. So there is still lots the 17-year-old skater can continue to improve on.

At the Border Blades first mini meet of the season [short track speed skating], the goal was [also] to keep under 50 seconds. In the first heat of the night, St. Marie raced Aaron Svendsen and Rachel Collins. St. Marie led from the beginning, and would race alone for the majority of the race after Svendsen and Collins crashed into the wall. There was nothing to slow her down or in her path, but her final time was slightly above what she wanted to accomplish.

A 51.48 on the Rusway Arena at the Servus Sports Centre. A hockey rink, converted each Thursday into a short track speed skating oval for the Border Blades. Times here are not as fast as they would be at a professional track, such as the one in Calgary, but it is the home of the Border Blades and that of St. Marie.

As part of the Blades, St. Marie has competed as three Alberta Winter Games, skated at westerns and competed at nationals, earning five top 10 finishes in eight skates. With this being her final year with the Border Blades, St. Marie has collegiate aspirations, hoping to land a spot at the University of Calgary for short track speed skating, which would also give her a chance to get into major competitions and join the national team.

It would be a big step in her speedskating career and a chance to improve on a large stage with a professional track. But for now, she will continue to use the Rusway rink as her facility, and do whatever she can to cut time off her races.

“You can always improve on your technique and you are never as good as you can be,” said St. Marie. “It’s just critiquing everything you can, and looking at videos and seeing everywhere you can improve, even if it is something really small. A tenth of a second is what determines gold from silver a lot of the time.”

The 50-second mark in the 500m is a threshold. According to St. Marie, it separates the good skaters from the elite. At the competition in January when St. Marie skated her personal best, the winning race was five seconds faster. She will want to be there some day.

“Once you hit that mark it’s a really big deal,” said St. Marie. “It takes the good skaters to the elite skaters.”

Edmonton ST & Western Canadian T2T Championships

Edmonton Short Track Ability Meet
and Western Canadian T2T Single Distance Championships

December 13-14, 2014
Kinsmen Arena, Edmonton

Edmonton Short Track Ability Meet Registration 2014

Please inform your coach if you are interested in attending this meet.  Please submit entry form by Monday, December 1 (mini meet). Club submission of entries is by midnight Thursday, December 4. 

This meet is a qualifying meet for T2T (Train to Train) aged skaters interested in qualifying for Canada West Short Track Championship in Selkirk Manitoba, and all other skaters will skate in an ability format meet (ActiveStart, FunD, L2T, and Junior). This is the first of two qualifying meets for Can-West. The second meet will be in Calgary in February 2015.

Note: There is no 111.1m track for juniors and Masters skaters