Ready to rumble: Mixed relay debuts in short track skating

Short track speedskating is already thrilling with its high-speed crashes and elbows flying

The 2,000-meter mixed team relay features a maximum of 12 teams with four skaters each — two men and two women — battling it out over 18 laps to reach the podium. Each skater races twice in this order: woman, woman, man, man, woman, woman, man, man.

Explosive starts and maximum speed will be on display. There’s no obvious leader in a mixed relay, which makes it even more unpredictable.

Asia is a hotbed for short track and although the arena seats 17,000, there won’t be the usual raucous atmosphere because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The six days of short track begin Feb. 5 with the mixed team relay final.

MIXED TEAM RELAY

China is ranked No. 1 in the world and set the world record at a test event in Beijing in October, making the Chinese the gold-medal favorite on home ice. The Netherlands, Hungary and the Russian Olympic Committee are in medals mix, too.

INDIVIDUAL EVENTS

MORE RELAYS

Canada, South Korea, Hungary, China and Italy are contenders in the men’s 5,000 relay. The Dutch, South Korea, Canada and China have the strongest chances in the women’s 3,000 relay.

U.S. CHANCES

It’s been 12 years since Ohno skated in the last of his three games, becoming the most decorated American Winter Olympian with eight career medals.

While his legacy burns bright, the U.S. is a long shot at these games.

Kristen Santos is the lone American skater ranked in the world’s top 10 in any event. She represents the best chance for the women to win their first medal since 2010, ranking second in the world in the 1,000 and fourth in the 1,500.

The only returning Olympian is Maame Biney, born in Ghana and raised in Virginia. Four years ago, she became the first Black woman to make the U.S. short track Olympic team. She finished 14th in the 500 and 31st in the 1,500 in Pyeongchang.

The U.S. men have won at least one medal at the last five Olympics, but failed to qualify a relay team for the first time since 1992. As a result, only two men — Ryan Pivirotto and Andrew Heo — will compete in Beijing, the smallest U.S. contingent since 1992, when the sport made its debut in Albertville.

HISTORIC VENUE

Capital Indoor Stadium hosts short track and figure skating. It was built in 1968 as the first artificial indoor ice rink in China. It hosted the “ping-pong diplomacy” matches between the U.S. and China in 1971, an event that paved the way for U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit Beijing the following year. Volleyball was played there during the 2008 Olympics.

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