The International Skating Union’s technical committee and its officials recently met to discuss some new rules or rule changes that have been made in short track speed skating for this season and next season. Here is a quick review of some of those rules.
Mohawks IRC WebEditor Note - How these rules will affect local club competitions is yet to be understood.
There will be video specialist referees
In a lot of sports, video replays have become the norm and have helped making sure that the field of play becomes a fair place for everyone. For sure, behind a video replay there will always be a human decision, but video replays do help make more accurate decisions. The short track technical committee has decided that some of the officials will become video specialists. The idea is to make sure that consistency goes up a notch.
From now on, in every international competition in short track (ISU and Olympic events) it will be mandatory for skaters to wear gloves that are mostly white. Coloured logo, strap or tips won’t be a problem but the gloves need to be white. It will help referees see the hands better while checking video replays. It will be easier to spot a white hand in action on a coloured skin suit.
While we are on the subject of referees, penalties will be announced on the microphone right after the decision is made and the technical committee is working on a language that will help clearly explain a decision. Don’t be surprised if in upcoming seasons you start seeing officials announce penalties themselves instead of having the announcer doing it. I think it’s fair to say the confusion following the women’s relay final in Pyeongchang may be behind this desire of not letting the crowd and viewers lost in limbo.
Junior World Championships
Junior world championships will be turned into single distance championships
No more overall world champion will be crowned at the junior level. Starting with the upcoming 2019 junior championships that will be held in Seoul from January 25th to the 27th, the Championships will be rewarding single distance champions. 500m, 1000m, 1500m and team relay will be raced. There won’t be any 1500m super final like there used to be. This major change at the junior level is most probably a first step towards doing the same kind of changes at the senior level. It’s been talked for a while that the 3000m in senior competition will probably disappear. We’ll see in the future. There will also be other changes to the selection of skaters that the different countries will be sending to the junior championships but these changes will be in effect in 2020. Without going into details, the changes will be a good thing for distance specialists.
The ice surface
The ice surface will go from 5 different tracks marked by dots to 7 different tracks. Rearrangement of the dots will bring the track 10cm closer to the board but this change will be better for the quality of the ice while still making it safe for skaters. It will give more time to repair it and let it rest before skaters go back to the same track.
During a relay, skaters must stay in the middle part of the ice until they enter to make a change. If they partially go in and slightly interfere with the action, they will be penalised. In the future, there is a possibility that a dotted line may be added to the straight part of the track between the last marker of a curve and the first one of the next curve.
The entire first turn is now the buffer space at the start where a race can be recalled. It was sometimes hard to determine whether something had happened before or after the apex, this new rule gives a clearer view of the situation to the referees.
The rule concerning the need to be in contact with the ice when your coach or technician is fixing something on your equipment stays but the mats in front of the coaches' bench are now considered as being part of the ice surface. A good news for smaller skaters. Yes you can sit or lay on the padding to get your gear fixed.
International World Cups
During championships, the B final of the relay events will be skated in the morning after the ranking finals. It will help condense the main event which means a better experience for the crowd and a friendlier format for broadcast. Four Continents Championships.
There will be a Four Continents Championships. The eligible skaters will be the ones from countries not participating in the European championships. The first edition will be held during the 2019/2020 season.
A skater advanced to the next round by the referee will have priorities over a “by time” selection. For example if the format is announced as being 2 + 1, the spot of the +1, normally the best time out of the skaters finishing third in their race, will be awarded to an advanced skater if there was advancements in any of the heats.
Under certain circumstances, you could replace a skater in a relay after an incident. For example, if the race is recalled during the first turn and your skater broke a blade, you could have him quit the ice surface and be replaced by another one.