BEIJING, China — United States short track speed skater Corinne Stoddard had a memorable and painful Olympic debut in Saturday’s women’s 500m heats.
The American slipped around a corner and shot into the padding feet first from an awkward angle. The force pushed her knee right into her face, and she immediately grabbed her bloodied nose.
Stoddard later announced on Instagram that her nose is broken.
The American said she is still cleared to skate despite the injury, as evidenced by her involvement in the mixed team relay on the same day.
“My nose is broken but the good news is that I am cleared to keep skating and racing,” she wrote on her Instagram story.
Stoddard, a 20-year-old from Seattle, Washington, placed third overall at Olympic Trials in December behind Kristen Santos and Maame Biney.
She was eliminated from the women’s 500m competition but is far from done. She is set to compete in the women’s 1000m, 1500m and 3000m relay events.
How short track differs from long track in speed skating
Imagine NASCAR on ice and you have short track.
Athletes race against each other, typically with four to six racers per heat. Racers advance from heat to heat until they reach the final. In addition to the individual events, there is a team relay for both the men and the women. And making its Olympics debut at the Beijing Games is the mixed team relay, with two men and two women per country.
There is a total of nine events in Beijing.
Because a smaller oval means more turns and higher G force, short track skaters wear helmets, protective gear and fixed skates. According to the Canadian Olympic Committee, short track racers face just under three Gs when turning. Short track walls are also padded to minimize injuries in the event of a crash.
Skaters don’t wear helmets for most events but do wear full body suits. Skates are much longer for faster straightaway speed and have a hinge on the front, allowing them to detach in the back. They’re referred to as “clap skates.”
There are two marked lanes on the track. On each lap, skaters must transition from the outside lane to the inside lane, or vice-versa. This ensures skaters will complete the same distance.