In short track speed skating, the turn radius is quite small, which causes the considerable “lean” of the skaters towards the inside of the turn, due to centripetal acceleration. As a result, skaters must mostly ride the turns using their momentum while fighting to maintain their balance and blade edges to prevent a fall.
Short track boots lace high up the ankle and are moulded to help stabilise the foot and ankle around corners. To grip the ice, blades are extremely sharp and are bent in at an arc in the same direction of the turn. Blades sit off-centre to the left so the boot does not touch the ice when the skater leans into the turn.
The high speed, tight corner, needs a pivot for the skater to stay tight to the corner blocks. They put down their left hand to stay a little longer on their right (outside) foot. A special left glove has metal, plastic or epoxy fingertips to reduce friction while putting the hand down for stability.
3. Lean vs. speed
Graphics by Trish McAlaster/The Globe and Mail
Sources: Olympic.org, Wired, RealWorldPhysicsProblems.com, VHSpeedskating.com