We’re getting on the track — the short track — with Ryan Shane, US Olympic hopeful in short track speed skating. Ryan’s got the details (and we love details) of the sport and answers some of our burning questions left over from Beijing 2022! And we’ve got some ice talk! You know how we love ice talk! Let’s just say that in short track, transponders are involved.
Ryan recently made the Team USA roster for the Fall Short Track World Cup Circuit, so be on the lookout for his competitions! The easiest way to do that is to follow him on Insta and his website.
In our Albertville 1992 history moment, Alison takes us to the ski jumping hill to tell us about Toni Nieminen, who stunned the competition with the latest innovation in ski jumping: Flying through the air with your skis in a V. Check it out:
We talked earlier this year about the evolution of this move during our conversation about the movie “Eddie the Eagle,” as Calgary 1988 was where we first started to see it.
In our journey to TKFLASTAN to catch up with Team Keep the Flame Alive, we run into:
- Sport shooter Tim Sherry
- Speed skater Erin Jackson – vote for her and Chloe Kim for the AAU James E. Sullivan award daily until November 9!
- Curler John Shuster
- Wheelchair curler Steve Emt
- Sport climber Josh Levin
Also, our condolences to the family of Sid Marantz, who passed away this week. Sid was an incredible Olympics supporter who we talked with a couple of times – once just after the 2018 Opening Ceremonies, and again about his volunteer work with LA 1984, where he was a Sam the Eagle mascot. He was an active member of Olympin, and he will be missed on the pin trading scene.
TKFLASTAN is in the process of announcing many official symbols. This week we have the results of our Facebook Group poll on our Official Flower. We’ll have more polls in the upcoming weeks, so join the group and make your voice heard!
Unfortunately, we have a doping update that results in a medal reallocation. Ten years (ten years) after it happened, Lashinda Demus will be awarded the gold medal for the 400m hurdles from London 2012, as new evidence shows Russian Natalya Antyukh was using banned substances during those Olympics. Zuzana Hejnová from the Czech Republic will be upgraded to silver, and Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer will come onto the podium at bronze. Ten. Years. Later.
This week, the government of British Columbia also released a statement saying that it does not support a 2030 Winter Olympics in the province. We talk about their reasons, the dwindling number of Winter Olympics host city options, and whether 2030 and 2034 will be awarded at the same time.
Thank you to our supporters! If this information provides value to you, please consider giving back.
Thanks so much for tuning in, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note.
Jill: Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown. Alison, hello, how are you?
Alison: I am feeling very smart today.
Jill: You are.
Alison: I am so, I can’t remember whether we said this on the show last week since we were talking gymnastics or if we said it for the Patreon show, but one of the comments that I made was Canada is poised to make a move in women’s gymnastics.
Jill: Yes, I do remember that. Yes.
Alison: Who got a medal this week at the World Gymnastics Championships? Yay. Yay. So Canada won a bronze medal in the team event for the first time, and Canada thus, Or quota, a spot for Paris 2024.
Jill: Yay. Good for them.
Alison: So I feel so smart.
Jill: I will say, I mean it’s hard to kind of keep on top of all of the sports in the Olympic program and I know we follow some more than others, but like it is nice to feel smart about a sport when you’re looking at so many sports.
Alison: I’m just going to bathe in my maple leaf glory for a few days. .
Jill: So who else got quotas?
So Team USA I saw won gold? Yes. So they have a quota.
Alison: So the women in Team USA won gold. Team gb, Great Britain got silver. Excellent. So the Canada was bronze, so they only have quota spots.
Jill: Nice and we’ll say that Russia and Belarus did not have a presence at this meet, so that’s why they are nowhere near the middle stand.
Alison: Yes, they are still banned. And this’ll be interesting. I was thinking about that as well, because if Russia particularly is banned from all the qualifying events, The IOC may not have to do anything for Paris 2024 in terms of banning or not banning Russia because they’re not earning spots.
Jill: Exactly. So yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out.
You know, Another way we can feel smart is with today’s interview
Alison: You will get a lot of information out of this.
Jill: Yes. So we are talking with American short track speed skater, Ryan Shane. Ryan tried to qualify for Beijing 2022, but he was not able to get one of the two slots for the US men’s team, so he is continuing on in his quest to become an Olympian.
Has eyes on Milan Cortina 2026. We got into the nitty gritty of some short track speed skating basics with him. Take a listen.
[00:03:02] Ryan Shane Interview
Jill: Ryan, thank you so much for joining us. First off, short track, speed skating, skating fast around a track against other people. So it’s a little demolition derby, like what drew you to the sport?
Ryan Shane: I think at the high speeds and the drama I think is the most exciting part and that’s kind of what drew me in cuz it’s just fun in general to skate around fast.
But when you’re skating around super fast, like pushing people outta your way, making moves, that’s what really excites me. I think that’s what drew me in.
Jill: Let’s talk about the track for a second. How big is a speed skating track
Ryan Shane: It’s on a standard Olympic size rank um, which I think is 60 meters by 30 meters. And then the track itself is 111 meters around.
Jill: Okay, so you’re dealing with 111 meters, but you also have races that are like 500 meters.
right? So starting on one side of the track and finishing on the other. Correct.
Ryan Shane: Rightly so. The 500 and the 1500, you start the opposite side from the finish line and then the thousand meters and the relays, you’ll start on the finish line because every nine laps is a thousand meters.
So it’s gonna be four and a half for the 513 and a half for the 1500. And then relays um, the mixed relay is 18 laps, 2000 meters. Women and junior men do the freek, which is 27 laps, and then senior men do the five 5k or 45 laps. How, how do the relay,
Jill: How do you keep track of the lap numbers in your brain?
Ryan Shane: There’s a lap counter, but I, it’s a lot of personal preference, whether you count in your head or not. Some people think it helps. I personally count in my head just to remind me of where I am pacing through my strategy. Like I wouldn’t wanna forget how many laps are to go and make a move too early.
But some people I’ve heard try not to think about the laps because[00:05:00] that actually does the opposite for them and makes them more impatient.
Alison: The track is obviously very different from a long track. How do the skates differ between the two?
Ryan Shane: So long track they have clap skates, so the blades are only attached in the front and they’re on a hinge.
So when they push the skate like folds out and then it claps back when they bring their foot in to the recovery. Short track skates are fixed in two points, so they won’t move at all. And then the actual setup of your boots and your blades are very different. Long track, there’s not a lot of offset from the blades.
They’re usually relatively close to the center of your foot, but short track you have a lot more lean. So you have, you set your blades offset to the side, so when you lean, you’re not hitting your boot against the ice. And then our blade. There’s a bend on our blades as well as a rock, which is the top of the blade is slightly rounded and we have much more bend and much more rock than long track because we have a tighter radius.
And that helps you carve around the tighter radius.
Alison: That mean that it’s, it’s when you’re saying bend and rock, like it looks like the leg of a rocking chair?
Ryan Shane: So yes the rock is kind of like that, but it’s not anywhere near that pronounced. And then the bend is a slight bend following the curve of where the track could be skating is.
So it’s like two different axis of curve on the blade. Okay. Oh, .
Jill: Sorry, my brain.
Alison: Many. I know. I’m sort of like trying to imagine, but, Cause I’ve never seen one up close. And the boots are low, aren’t they?
Ryan Shane: Yeah, so the boots are a little bit different too from long track. They have more streamlined boots and usually a little bit less stiff.
And I think they come up just a little bit lower on your foot than the short track boots. And most people run two pairs of laces in their short track boots. So you can adjust the tightness on lower down a, your foot from higher up because just there’s more force going through your feet in the corner cuz you have to turn a tighter radius and it can help you have more control throughout that.
And also since the track is small, there’s not a lot of straightaway, so our setup is optimized for speed in the corners, whereas long track has to focus on maximizing speed in the straightaways as well.
Jill: So with that offset of the blade, where you place it on the boot, does that change as your abilities to like get lower and more angular?
Yes. Yes. Does that change ?
Ryan Shane: Yeah. So starting out, like if you’re learn to skate, you’re definitely, it would be pretty much in the middle of your foot. And then as you get better moving up in speed getting lower and more lean, then you slowly shift it over. And it’s also, it’s depends on your technique because you need to, like proper technique, you have a lot of lean in the corner, so you’re gonna need that offset, but your style might involve less lean.
So you personally would have a little bit less offset than someone else.
Alison: Is there a difference between the left skate and the right skate?
Ryan Shane: Yeah. So the offset is gonna be a little bit different because the shape of your foot. On the inside versus outside is different. Because part of the reason the offset is so that you don’t hit your boot on the ice.
And then part of it is also just the direction of the power transferring through your foot. Because if your blade is shifted closer into the corner, you can push a little bit more to the side off of it.
Alison: Now, I know we’re talking about skates, but I have a body question. So, is your left side of your body significantly different than from your right side of your body?
Ryan Shane: We try and do training to balance it out and not get too far lopsided, but there definitely are differences because your legs have to do slightly different actions and maybe not so much physical differences.
In the muscles, but your feel on each leg is completely different and you like, there’s no way you could really go the opposite way cuz your legs learn to go one way.
Alison: Has anybody studied whether left-handed people have an advantage in this sport?
Ryan Shane: I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of left-handed people having an advantage, but–
Alison: your natural turn is gonna be to the left if you’re left-handed.
Jill: Yeah, but I mean that’s just, it’s derby direction. That’s what I would say. Alison officiate roller derby when they have the same problems, Ryan. But like, that’s the way the track goes. That’s the way, all of the, the directions. If you’re in a circle goes counterclockwise.
Alison: But would have an advantage though.
Ryan Shane: Well, but also you’re swinging your right arm on the outside, so maybe it would be better to be right-handed. Oh, okay.
Jill: We’re putting this in a brain. We’ve gotta find this, a PhD for this. So when you first started to [00:10:00] skate not this skating, but the, when you were a little kid and you put on your first pair of skates, what kind of skates were they?
Ryan Shane: They were figure skates.
Jill: Okay. So how does the blade differ from a figure skate blade?
Ryan Shane: So a figure skate blade, the bottom of it is like a upside down u. So there’s two, the two edges are separated and there’s like a little gap in the middle. And then the blade is much more rounded and there’s a toe pick on the front.
Short track blade is gonna me longer. Thinner. The bottom is flat and there’s right angles for the two edges instead of the U shape underneath. And then there’s a bend on the blade. And the rounding or the rock on the bottom is much, less pronounced.
Jill: How long do a, a set of blades last typically?
Ryan Shane: At the elite level, probably around a season.
Alison: And the boots?
Ryan Shane: Boots, depending on like accidents or anything. Usually a couple of seasons, maybe two or three. A lot of people like to get brand new boots right before Olympic seasons just to be fresh for qualification and whatnot. But it really depends on how much wear and tear and how much racing you get.
Jill: what does a new pair of boots do versus a broken down pair of boots?
Ryan Shane: So if they’re really broken down, they might not be stiff enough and they might not be supporting your foot in the right way. So they’re custom molded. And that allows you to get a real feel for the ice through your boot.
And if they’re broken down, they might be looser in some areas or not quite as molded onto your foot anymore. And if you have too much wiggle in your boot, you’re gonna lose the feel for the ice.
Alison: Okay. So you’re still pretty young. Is your foot stable in terms of growth?
Ryan Shane: I think so.
Alison: Okay. , but just, Right. So this has been, so if your foot significantly changed during a season, have you dealt with that?
Ryan Shane: The beginning of last season, I got custom boots. I’ve not had any changes since that when I was on the development team in my old boots, which were not full customs, there was definitely some changes, but I hadn’t had any major changes during a season since, like when I was younger, go for like four pairs of boots in a season going up in size.
Alison: Yeah. It’s like they come home from , a gym class one day and are like, Mom, my sneakers are too small now. This is a little more difficult to work with when that happens.
Ryan Shane: Yeah. I think at the club level, like there’s a lot of like maybe rental skates or club skates that once you size up then you can move on to the next one and then your smaller size can go to another kid, but doesn’t really work that way at this level.
Jill: Uh, Okay, so you have skates. Do you wear socks?
Ryan Shane: So I wear stockings. A lot of people wear stockings. There’s some special skating socks that are pretty thin, but you don’t want anything that’s too thick at all because then your foot won’t fit into your boot since it’s custom molded.
Some people do skate barefoot. I think it’s a little bit gross and also you have a higher chance of getting blisters. So that’s why I wear the stockings.
Jill: How high up on your legs do they go?
Ryan Shane: Just under my knee. Okay. And they’re underneath my skin suit,
Alison: Oh my God. They’re wearing knee highs.
Jill: Okay. Skin suit. I be so happy. . Skin suit. What is your skin suit made out of?
Ryan Shane: There’s actually a lot of different ones. The US team starting last year has a new specially engineered like wind tunnel tested suit. It’s like a collaboration of Under Armor and Quick Skins. I’m not sure exactly what the material is.
It’s kind of like a rubber material for most of the body section and then a more fabric with like a textured pattern on it, on the arms. And it’s supposedly supposed to be more aerodynamic. Faster gives you performance advantage. But then the older suits and the training suit that I skate in, they’re just the traditional, stretchy, like, uh, and do you have a helmet?
Yes. Helmet is required. And there’s also, you wear actually two skin suits because you have a, you have a cut suit that you wear underneath your skin suit, and that’s made with Kevlar fabric in case uh, there’s a fall or an accident, so you don’t get slashed open. And that’s a safety requirement pretty much starting out when you’re like 12 years old enough
Alison: because those blades look like knives.
I mean, they’re scary looking. Yeah.
Jill: What kind of helmet do you have?
Ryan Shane: So I have a couple different helmets cuz I’m getting a new helmet, which has a custom paint design on it, but there’s a couple different companies that make speed skating helmets. So I just have a brand that fits my head well.
Jill: so custom paint when you race though, you wear helmet covers? Right?
Ryan Shane: So domestically in the US a lot of the races that are helmet covers. [00:15:00] On the World Cup circuit, usually there’s helmet numbers, which are stickers on the side of the helmet, which then the paint design can be visible.
Jill: Okay, that makes sense. The other thing I saw along with helmet covers are transponders.
What is this for?
Ryan Shane: So, um, we wear transponders on our ankles during racing. There’s an antenna that’s built underneath the finish line in the ice and that will record um, your lap times and then your finishing times. So that’s how they get it automatically on the scoreboard. And the transponder time is not your official time, but it’s a good predictor before the photo finish loads cuz the photo finished camera is what records your official time.
But if there is not a close finish, they can call the finish based on transponder times.
Jill: That’s interesting. Get back on my ice list. Alison . We have a list of ice people to talk to cuz all ice is different. This is amazing.
Alison: On that topic. What makes short track ice unique from hockey ice or bigger skating ice?
Ryan Shane: Well some of it goes into the composition of the water that we use. I know at the Utah Olympic oval, they tend to use mineral water on the short track compared to pure water on the long track, cuz it, it’s a little bit less glide, but more grip. And on the long track you want glide because you have long straightaways and gentle corners.
But on short track, you want maximum grip because you have a lot of G forces for the tight corners. I can’t speak for other rinks. I don’t know exactly what they do. But other than that, the main differences would be the board list pads and then the dots to mark the track.
Alison: So you want grip on your ice as opposed to the slide of the long track.
That, which makes sense,
Ryan Shane: right? But you, you still need the right balance because you don’t want to have so much friction down the straightaway that you’re losing speed. It should be just enough grip to maximize your corners. And that’s also, you might see during races. They’ll pour water in the corners before every race.
That actually gives you a lot more grip in the corners. So it helps go faster and not lose an edge.
Jill: You mentioned pads. What is it like to hit them?
Ryan Shane: The board list pads, it’s actually pretty nice. Doesn’t really hurt. When you’re at a younger level and you’re skating in rinks where they just put pads inside of hockey boards, those kind of hurt.
But a lot better than hitting the boards.
Alison: Okay. Worst crash you’ve had?
Ryan Shane: Worst crash Olympic trials. 1500 a final. I went in neck first and folded in half. Not very fun.
Alison: Did you get up after that ?
Ryan Shane: Yeah. And I finished the race, but in last place. But still.
Alison: But you finished and you were still in one piece.
Ryan Shane: Yeah. Took me a lot of work, a lot of sports massage on my neck to get it fixed, but it’s good now. . And I did skate the rest of Olympic trials and it didn’t, it hurt, but just skated for it.
Jill: Does it hurt because of the pressure of the G forces or because you constantly have to look in where you’re going and your neck is turned, or,
Ryan Shane: I think part of it is you do have to flex a little bit your neck to keep your shoulders in line. I think also partially just because of the way I hit it, the muscles were a little bit sprained.
Jill: So in short track, there’s three individual events, 500, 1000, 1500. How do you develop a strategy for each race?
Ryan Shane: Each race is unique in the number of people on the ice and the way that it’s traditionally skated. So the 500, you know, every time it’s gonna be an all out sprint because it’s short enough. Everyone at the elite level is completely capable of sprinting the entire thing all out. So there’s not too much strategy to that. The thousand and the 15, usually you have to look at who’s gonna be in your race, what round it’s gonna be. Cuz there’s different strategies if you’re in the heats versus the semi-finals versus the finals.
Like how many people are gonna qualify to the next round. All of that information, you have to think about it and process it. And there’s tons of different options to then narrow down how you think you’re gonna skate, what your strategy’s gonna be in that race.
Alison: Part of the strategy has to do with running from the front, running from the back and passing. And I know there’s lots of rules around who can do what. So let’s talk a little bit about how you pass and what’s allowed.
Ryan Shane: So the rules on passing, they’re complicated and most people don’t really understand them.
Essentially, you can’t make contact on a pass pretty much ever. You have to finish your pass if you’re on the inside before you reach the blocks that start the next corner. And then when you’re making your pass, you change your lane in the straightaway and you shift over in a way [00:20:00] that pushes someone out of the way, then that can be called, It’s a lot of very discretionary rules.
I know there was a big controversy at the Olympics because the officials weren’t calling the Chinese skaters. And then they were calling the Korean skaters for passes that either side thought should be allowed or shouldn’t be allowed. So basically the safest way to know you won’t get a penalty is don’t make contact and don’t push anyone out of your way.
Alison: Now, sometimes there is kind of incidental contact where I will see often a a skater put his or her hand on the back of another skater, and it’s almost like, Excuse me, I’m here. Is there some sort of standard of communicating between skaters who are racing against each other?
Ryan Shane: Usually I would say if a skater is putting their hand on the skater in front of them, the most likely reason would be they built up some speed to make a pass or to try something.
And they knew they weren’t gonna be able to complete it cleanly, so they’re gonna maybe not push to burn off a little bit of speed. They’re gonna get a little bit too close to skater in front of them and just put their hand up so that they don’t run into that. I would say the communication in a race between skaters, a lot of it is you might be building up a move and someone can sort of see you out of the corner of their eye and they’re gonna shift over.
It’s kind of nonverbal positioning. There’s a little bit like if someone really wants to take out a race from the front, you can kind of see the way that they’re gonna lead. And other skaters might see that and understand that maybe they’re gonna take advantage of someone else who wants to lead. But I don’t think that there’s really a standard of communication.
It’s just, just trying to read what your opponents are doing and what that means
Alison: Is there ever talking among the racers?
Ryan Shane: Definitely in the heat box. There’s talking. I would say there’s definitely some shit talking. But also people will say, Oh, this is a a heat.
Like we already know these are the two strongest skaters in this race. So those two skaters might discuss, Hey, we know we’re gonna qualify from this round. Let’s just sit at the back, maybe make a move at the end because it’s gonna be easy for us. And then maybe in a, in a semi-final, someone will say, you know, Hey, I’m, I’m out of the overall standings.
I’ll just lead this out for you stuff. I don’t know that it’s really ever truthful. People try and get in each other’s heads a little bit, but there are conversations.
Jill: What is the heat box?
Ryan Shane: Where you stage the lineup, there’s a competitor steward who checks to make sure everyone who’s in the next round or the next race is there lined up.
And then from there, that’s where you go onto the ice for your competition
Alison: Is it in fact hot?
Ryan Shane: No usually it is very cold and you have to bring blankets and jackets to make sure you stay warm because you don’t wanna be cold getting on the ice for your race.
Alison: Do you take off your skates between races?
Ryan Shane: Always. Always. Even if there’s 10 minutes between races, it’s better to take your skates off. It takes maybe two or three minutes to take your skates off and put them back on another two or three minutes. And even if you only have a very short window of time, it’s better to get a little bit of warm up in there.
Let your feet out of your skates for a moment. And then when you tie your skates, they can be exactly how you want them and they haven’t been maybe sitting in your boots getting a little bit looser. So you kind of wanna time it to put your skates on at the last minute you can before your race.
But usually it’s better to be safe rather than, sorry, you would hate to not have your skates on when they call your race.
Alison: There is another skate question that came up that I remembered that someone asked during Beijing. Are there guards for those blades?
Ryan Shane: Yes. Yeah. You’ll see the skaters in the heat box.
They’ll be wearing the guards, they’ll step on the ice or the, pads, they’ll be adore that opens up, step onto the ice in their guards, take off their guards, and then hand them. There’ll be someone who will bring them down to the exit and when they’re getting off, put their guards on, on the ice and walk off.
So you never want your blades to be touching. Something, it’s not ice or guards.
Jill: I’m still hung up on passing people. Maybe it’s when you’re in there and you can see and, we’re getting really old Allison, cuz it’s not, The Matrix is probably not a good reference anymore.
But, you know, the matrix opens up, like, is that how you just start seeing holes or how does it work? How really do you pass somebody with so many rules?
Ryan Shane: So there are some times where there’s just an opportunity opens and you have to go for it. But most of the time to make a pass the goal is to change your speed from the skater in front of you.
And there’s a couple ways you can do that cuz there’s no way you can get by someone if you’re skating the same exact speed as them. So you can adjust the track that you’re skating and maybe take a little bit of a wider or deeper entrance into the corner. Build up a little bit of speed. So when you’re on the exit, you’re going faster.
You could back off from the skater a little bit to take an extra step into the next corner and have a little bit of over speeded on them. [00:25:00] Or say you got distanced earlier in a race and you’re able to close the gap, that’s another chance where you might have more speed than the skater in front of you and you can use that.
Or the last thing skater in front of you could slip a little bit, make a mistake, and that’s an opportunity that you might wanna take advantage of.
Alison: When you see someone slip, how quickly can you react to avoid the crash and how?
Ryan Shane: So it depends. All depends on where they slip you. If they’re in the corner because of the G-force, if they slip, they’re gonna go flying outside into the pad.
So usually if you can stay tight on the blocks and you see someone, when you see someone slip, you’ll end up inside of them. Where it gets tricky is if you’re further back in the pack or maybe on the exit of the corner, or if they stumble in the straightaway and maybe someone’s sliding out, someone in front of you tries to come inside of them, blocks off that room, and then you start having to kind of weave around and really pick your way through.
That’s an actually a benefit. Sometimes in racing, you might be giving up draft going closer to the front of a race, but you also might be avoiding sl, someone slipping that you’re gonna have to dodge and waste energy catching back up after that or risk crashing yourself.
Alison: Do you prefer running from the front or the back?
Ryan Shane: I usually like to be at the front, but there’s a time and a place for both. and I know when I need to be at the back, and it’s better to be worth more beneficial than to be what’s most comfortable.
Jill: What muscle groups are you using while you skate and what needs to be strong?
Ryan Shane: Pretty much everything really. There’s a lot of core strength that it takes to maintain good technique. Obviously quads are huge. That’s most of your power is generated the quads and hamstrings.
And then your calves are also important for maintaining a low position and getting as much power out of every push as possible. And since you’re. It has to be low stereo, aerodynamic. All of your lower back muscles especially have to be strong. And then even your your upper body, your chest, your arms have to be strong for relay pushes to maximize the amount of speed you could give to your teammate.
Jill: Glad you brought up Relay.
Alison: We were so confused by the relays in Beijing when we were watching them.
Ryan Shane: That’s usually what people say when they watch a short track relay for the first time.
Alison: Okay, so skaters were coming on, they were going off. It’s not like the four by 100 swimming or the four by 100 running where it’s just you pass off and the next person does their distance.
This was back and forth. So how does this work exactly?
Ryan Shane: So in a relay. So the skater that takes, starts in the starting line is the first one to be skating the relay. Then when they make any sort of physical contact with another teammate, that teammate becomes the one skating the relay. So it can be a push, which is what you’re supposed to do, or you might miss an exchange and it might be an arm sling or if someone falls, you might go just tag them to take the relay.
And then typically in the men’s and women’s relays, skaters are gonna usually do one and a half laps at a time. And the skater who is next in the order for their team, will be building up speed on the inside, trying to time it perfectly. So at the end of the one and a half laps, they come out right in front of their teammate and the teammate can give them a big push to help build a little bit of speed.
And usually all of the teams that are racing together, their exchanges usually sync up. Sometimes you’ll see one country will change up the laps a little bit to exchange on an opposite side of the track from the other countries because there might be a chance there to make some moves or get an advantage from that.
And then the mixed relay usually well the, the rule is it has to have two women and then two men skate in that order two times through, and they have to skate, I believe it’s two and a half laps and then two laps, all the other relays. As long as everyone skates at least one lap and the last person to skate skates, two laps, then you can have any order.
People can skate any number of times to reach the full distance.
Alison: So the relay strategy is very complicated and has to change on the fly. If someone crashes,
Ryan Shane: yes. I believe the Korean women in 2018, they had a race in which one of their teammates fell. They were able to run out and tag their teammate and continue the relay.
They caught back up one that semi-final to make it to the final and set the Olympic record even with the crash. So even not over, if there’s a crash, obviously it’s it’s a disadvantage, especially in a final, But if your team can react quickly and you have a strong team, you can still come back from that.
Jill: How far does that push send you?
Ryan Shane: It really, it doesn’t really give you a difference of the other teams unless [00:30:00] some other team has a weak push, but it’s. If you have a strong push, you know you won’t be losing ground to another team. And if you can, so sometimes you’ll see a skater set up the turn going into the exchange as if they were setting up a pass and instead of finishing the pass themself, they’ll do it by pushing and you can get a pass done on the push.
And then that’s another way in a relay that you can pass
Alison: is one of the skaters, the driver and sort of organizing who’s going when on the ice. When you have to make those adjustments,
Ryan Shane: that really depends on the team and the coach. And like obviously you’ll discuss with your coach beforehand, you’ll agree on a plan and usually there’ll be the skater who skates first is covering the skater who skates third in case they fall.
And then two is covering four and vice versa. So you’ll have someone ready to go tag if there’s a fall. And then before the race discussing with the coaches, they’ll come up with a strategy of an order and sometimes maybe some skaters will skate a little bit more or less just because of the number of laps.
In a 5K or a free k, the skater who’s finishing and the skater who’s starting is always going to be doing a little bit more than the other two skaters. Just cuz of the number of laps, the way the math works out. So you might want, if you have a, we a weak link, I guess they might skate third. And your strongest skater you want to be finishing.
Jill: Where on the body do you want to push the other skater?
Ryan Shane: So you push on the hips, okay? You don’t wanna be up too high on the back because then they might fall forward and you don’t want to be like too low down cuz. Then you might just tip them over. They’re not gonna get the optimal speed from it.
Jill: And once you’re done pushing, like this is also where the chaos goes. You have to like, kind of get out of the way, but then you also have to get back into the center of the rink. So yes once you’ve pushed somebody, then what do you do next?
Ryan Shane: So once you push, usually what you do is you, you take a look behind you, make sure there’s not anyone, any other teams coming that might, you might get in the way of, and you wanna move usually to the outside of the rink and coast to lose a little bit of your speed.
And then you gotta check the track, find the right time to cross back into the center of the ice. And usually what saves the most energy is when you’re coasting and after you’ve pushed to let the race lap you. Before you come back in and then your right synced up with them. So when you wanna build up your speed, you don’t have to catch up to them.
Alison: So you mentioned the Korean women, but both Korean and China. Very powerful in short track. Is there a significant difference between say, the way the Koreans or the Chinese skate versus the way the American skate?
Ryan Shane: Yeah. So the Americans for a while there was a well, historically we’ve had a lot of different coaches from different countries.
So we’ve had Korean coaches and the skaters have been skating Korean style. A lot of the clubs in the US do have Korean coaches. So a lot of skaters do have a Korean technique. I have more of a Chinese style technique because my coach on the development team was a Chinese coach. But at the national team level, the philosophy in the US is not to change your technique to fit a certain style, but to develop it to the maximum for the way you already skate.
But if you see a comparison of the Koreans or the Chinese which are relatively similar to each other versus the Dutch or a lot of the European skaters have a very different style. The Dutch have a lot of lean in the corner without a lot of hips and they have much bigger straightaway pushes which is probably cuz of the popularity of long track in the Netherlands.
But most countries have slightly different style and a lot of the smaller countries kind of copy the style of whatever country their coach is actually from.
Alison: So what would be defined as the Chinese style, for example, that you’re using?
Ryan Shane: So there’s not quite as much lean as the Dutch shorter straightaways, and you want to really extend the distance out of the corner.
It’s kind of hard to describe because it, I know it by feel, but just the way the position that your hips and your shoulders are in relative to a skater from a different style, it would be a little bit different. There’s more hip, you push your hip more into the corner than a lot of the European styles where there’s more shoulders into the corner.
Jill: One thing in, in short track is that the ice gets chopped up quite a bit and in between races or heats they have the technicians go and, reic the little holes. Do you ever feel a difference in once the track’s been beat up a little bit?
Ryan Shane: [00:35:00] Yeah, you can definitely feel that.
You get a lot of, obviously in a training session you don’t get a ice resurface, so it’s not something that you’re not used to doing. But you can definitely tell if your heat’s up first, the ice. There’s more grip probably faster too. It’s just easier to keep your keep your edges in the ice for the corner.
But actually the difference is not huge because they do have the ice mainten. You always have water down and they’ll squeegy, which will knock off any big pieces of ice that are built up. And when they shift the track between races, that means that every race, even though you don’t get the whole rink fresh, at least part of your track is gonna be fresh.
Jill: Do you ever get tangled up with those officials in the corner who have to replace the cones?
Ryan Shane: I have not personally done it, but there have been some very infamous incidents. I think Junior world championships in maybe 2019 or 2020, in Italy, there was a skater in a relay who was coming around the corner right as someone was replacing a block and skated straight into the technician.
I think it was one of the Canadian skaters. I don’t remember exactly, but I’ve seen the video of it and I think they had to advance the Canadians because it wasn’t their fault.
Alison: So in Beijing we saw a couple of races where, like you were saying, they advanced skaters because of various crashes or penalties. How crowded is too crowded, what races have you been in where, Wait, there are just way too many skaters on the ice.
Ryan Shane: Usually there aren’t too many skaters because the way the rules are designed, like if there’s advancements, that means that certain people wouldn’t qualify.
Cuz for example, they could say top two plus the third, first fastest third place. If there’s an advancement, the fastest third place no longer gets to advance. So usually that keeps the numbers down. Obviously in Beijing that didn’t really work out because they still had an, a final of 10 people in the 1500 uh, which is pretty crazy.
But I’ve skated, I think an eight or nine person a final for the 1500. Really, you have to stay at the front in that kind of a race because at the back there there’s so much distance up to the front of the race and there’s so many opportunities to get tangled up. In training you might do some sets where you have the whole team skating, but almost never would you do it at a race pace for that many people.
Jill: What are some ways skaters get advanced even though they may fall during a race?
Ryan Shane: So going back to how the qualifying for the next round works. the way it used to wait, they actually just changed the rules. If they said they’re gonna pick the top three finishers, as long as you’re in the top three P positions, if someone bumps into you or knocks you down when you’re in qualifying position, then you can get advanced.
the last season, they just changed the rule. It only applies to first and second position. So if you are in first or second position and someone makes contact with you in a way that negatively impacts your race or impedes you, then they officials can advance you to the next round. for example At World Cup Trials last year I was in, I think, second position in a semi-final, and I saw a skater coming from behind me on the inside.
So I, I moved in to squeeze him, essentially forcing him to make contact with me, pushing me out, because I knew that that kind of a thing, the officials would advance me in the next round because he would push me out. and then I think in Beijing, the controversy was because instead of being physical contact, like body to body, it was blade contact, and that was very unliked by certain people.
Alison: So when there’s, official review and they’re looking at the races and everything stops, what does that do to that athlete? What does that do to the atmosphere and the stadium and those races?
Ryan Shane: I can tell you from experience, if it was your race that just happened and you did something a little bit sketchy, there’s definitely a lot of anxiety.
Maybe you take your skates off, maybe you don’t, you just kind of nervously sit there and wait for the announcer to say something. But if you’re in the next race, actually, equally there’s anxiety because you don’t know how much longer you have until you can race. You’re worried maybe you’re gonna get a little bit cold.
You know how, because there’s beneficial reviews that have been taken one minute and there’s beneficial reviews that have taken 15 minutes. It really depends on what happened. The video angles, what officials are working, and it definitely does slow down the action, which is unfortunate. But it’s good that you also know say if you’re the one who was taken out, that there’s a chance that your race might not be ruined because someone else broke the rules and that you still have a chance to compete.
Alison: Is there ever theater in short track like there is in soccer?
Ryan Shane: [00:40:00] Yes, for sure. There’s ways to fall. If someone touches you and you know you’re in the right position, there’s ways to fall or to move out that, you can get yourself advanced. I’ve done it. I’m pretty sure everyone’s done it.
It’s just, it’s part of the game. Like, you don’t wanna make contact because someone could use that to their advantage to get themselves advanced in yourself, penalized. And then, you know, if someone touches you, you can try it and you can maybe move, like move out, show that they pushed you and give up all your positions, but you’re also risking giving up a chance to fight for the win and you’re gonna maybe end up losing and they’re not gonna advance you.
I believe it was at the Olympics Australian skater, Brendan Corey there was a race. Someone gave him a push and he. Fought back in, like no feeder, didn’t wanna just take it and drift out. And he ended up not qualifying. And I think he made a statement, He said he would rather fight for the qualifying position than risk it on what the judges were gonna see in that incident.
Jill: Cause then I did wonder if that’s like one of the strategy tools in your toolbox Oh, I see this person coming up behind me, or they made contact. And especially in an early heat, if you know if it’s going to advance you. Do you use that as a strategy?
Ryan Shane: I would say in an early race It’s not a good idea.
It’s better if you’re in a race that you know you’re not gonna qualify from. Like, every skater in this race. Maybe it’s fresh and you’re super tired, they’re all stronger than you. You go into the race, you go to the front, you wait for someone to do something, maybe a little bit stupid, and you try and take advantage of it.
But if you’re in an early heat and you even have a chance of qualifying, there’s no reason to do that. It’s more of a desperation, just trying to qualify at all costs.
Alison: So Winning the race, is it blade across first body across first? What counts
Ryan Shane: as the tips of your blade is how they measure it. So you’ll see a lot of close races. It’s called a hawk. When you try and shoot your blade across as far in front of you as you can you kind of take like a, a shuffle and then you just reach, you, like drive your foot as far out in front.
And maybe there’s a couple people side by side each doing it, trying to get their blades as far in front of them as they can. I think at the Olympics the men’s relay bronze medal I think, or might have been the silver medal between Russia and Italy, was decided in a photo finished like that. And World Cup last year, I saw definitely a lot of races like that and personal experience, Olympic trials.
500 semi-final. I lost out by four. One thousandths of the second because I couldn’t quite get my foot far enough ahead. And junior National Championships last year, the opposite came from behind someone and managed to get my blade just a little bit further ahead than their,
Alison: It’s, it’s a game of millimeters, not even inches.
Jill: Kind of speaking of Olympic trials, you went in hopeful to get to Beijing. Did okay, but obviously you didn’t reach your goal. So what are you working on in this? Like what did you learn from the trials and what do you need to work on for 2026?
Ryan Shane: Obviously one thing is just obviously getting stronger.
That’s always important and getting experience in obviously domestic racing, but also international racing to help prepare knowing all the different strategies because you’ve experienced them and all the different scenarios you could possibly be in that helps prepare you for race. And then just having skated Olympic trials before, I think knowing what to expect, knowing.
The format of how the race works cause it’s not exactly the same as any other competition. And I think all of that together. And then the other thing is skating The World Cups in 2026 and the men need to have a better finish then because if we only have two spots for the men again in 2026, that’s mu very not ideal.
We need to qualifying our relay team and getting five spots.
Jill: Well, thank you so much, Ryan. This helped. I, I can’t , I’m sorry cuz we have so many questions about speed skating, so this really helped us. I, we really appreciate it.
Thank you so much, Ryan. Ryan was selected to be a part of Team USA’s roster for the fall short track World Cup Circuit, which started last weekend and continues this weekend in Salt Lake City. You can follow Ryan on Instagram at Ryan Shane and his website is ryan s shane.com.
We will have links to all of that in the show notes.
[00:44:44] Albertville 1992 History Moment
Jill: That sound means it’s time for our history moment. All year long. We are looking at Albertville 1992 as it is the 30th anniversary of those games. [00:45:00] Alison, you had two stories ready to go last week, so we’re getting your second story in this week. What do you have?
Alison: So we had teenage Ryan Shane on the show today.
So we’re talking teenager. Toni Nieminen in from ski jumping. He was part of the Finnish team and he won gold in the team event. He became the youngest male champion in Winter Olympics history. He was 16 years, 259 days old. He beat the record of Billy Fisk by one day. Whoa. Fisk had won gold in bobsled in 1928, so that record had held for quite a long time, but he was not done.
Two days later, he became the youngest man to win an individual gold medal in the individual large hill competition. So Nieminen is most remembered, not only for being a baby when he won these medals. And if you look at the video and we’ll have the link to some YouTube videos, he looks about 11 . He does not even look 16 , but he was the first to win with the V style of ski jumping.
So the idea, the idea of the back of the skis are together and the fronts are spread. Prior to Nieminen in the champions were all jumping with parallel ski.
Jill: Right. And, and I remember when when we talked about the Eddie the Eagle movie, we talked about how you were just starting to see that Telemark landing appear on the scene then.
So this is really the first Games where that happened consistently, right?
Alison: Yes. Because prior to the early nineties, judges would mark you down if you positioned your skis in a v.
Alison: So in the early nineties they changed that, which allowed people to use that position. But because he was so young, that gave him an advantage because he hadn’t been jumping in that parallel style for so many years and then having to change.
Now, this is very interesting because over the next two cycles, Everybody’s doing the V positioning. Nieminen, even though he continued jumping until 2004, he never won another Olympic medal.
Jill: Huh. Very interesting.
Alison: So he continued, didn’t win in another Olympic medal and mostly because his advantage with the V was so great that first time around, and then as everyone caught up to him, he lost that advantage and also his voice dropped.
So that may have been a part of it.
[00:47:33] TKFLASTAN – Team Keep the Flame Alive Update
Alison: Welcome to Shook.
Jill: Yes, it is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the flame alive. These are past guests of the show who are now our citizens of Shook on are very own country. First up, we’ve got some results.
Alison: Tim Sherry won bronze in the 300 meter rifle event at the 2022 International Shooting Sport World Championships.
Jill: Yay. And that’s his first World championships medal. That is. Or Yeah. So he was so excited about that
Alison: and he said he had a little bit of a rough start, but he settled in and came from behind to make it to that bronze medal position. So congratulations.
Jill: At the US Peace skating long track World Cup qualifier, Erin Jackson got first in the 500 meter, second in the 1000 meter, which was also a personal best time for her.
She also got a personal best time in the 1500 meter. She’s qualified for the. Team in the 500 meter and the 1000 meter. So we will see her on the World Cup circuit doing those races this year. Then she immediately flew from Salt Lake City to Argentina for the world skate games where she finished second in the 500, and this is back to inline skating.
So she’s going back and forth still.
Alison: Team Schuster finished 13th in the tier two men’s round robin at the 2022 Hearing Life Tour Challenge and did not advance to the playoff
Jill: rounds and also in curling wheelchair curler. Steve Emt skipped a team at the world’s curling tours, Talent Wheelchair International in Estonia, and they placed second.
Alison: So in other news, Josh Levin announced on Facebook that he has retired from the regular season of American Ninja Warrior.
He is also a character and a new fantasy adventure novel called The Ninja Games, The Warrior Within by Lance Pess and Jesse Haynes.
Jill: Erin Jackson and Chloe Kim have been nominated for a AAU James E. Sullivan Award. You can vote once per day until November 9th, and we will have a link to that in the show notes.
You know that, that name has so much meaning for me now that we’ve done a lot of historical stuff.
Alison: Yeah. James E. Sullivan is not necessarily an award. You wanna win , I mean, you want the award [00:50:00]
Jill: because it means a lot. I mean, he was a big wig back in the day, but also not the, not the best person.
Alison: We, we might wanna work on renaming that award
And a little bit of sad news. Sid Marantz, who was on episode 50 telling us the story of how he was Sam the Eagle at LA 1984 has passed away, so we send condolences to his family.
Jill: And we have news on Shook Luton. What? What’s going on? We
Alison: do. We have an official flower. It was tight. I was surprised. People had feelings about flour.
So the official flower of TKFLASTAN will be the flame Lilly.
Jill: So exciting.
Alison: We’ll be working on the official animal next.
Jill: Oh, and you will see polls and information about that in our Facebook group.
Alison: Correct. Coming next week? Excellent.
[00:50:51] Doping Update
Jill: Not so excellent. We’ve got some doping news. We are still, and it’s not me this time, , We are still on London 20 12. This is incredible. So Russian athlete Natalya Antyukh, was disqualified from her 400 meter hurdles, gold medal win at London 2012. She had was already serving a four year ban. From a court of arbitration for sport case that stripped her results from 2013 to 2015. This ruling was based on historical evidence recovered from a Moscow testing lab database, which further disqualified her.
Going all the way back to July 15th, 2012, which includes London 20 twelves results. So the gold medal is now going to Lashina Demus from the United States. She is now 39 years old, so she was 29 when she won the medal. That would’ve been like, what a career crown. Achieving a moment for her.
London 2012 was her second and final games. She had also competed at 2004 in Athens. So, that’s gotta be a little tough to be like your crowning moment final games. 10 years later you get the medal you won. Upgrading to. Silver or will be Zuzana Hejnová of Czech Republic, and the bronze will go to Kaliese Spencer from Jamaica.
This is all reported by the Associated Press,
Alison: Infuriating we all know, and that it’s another Russian athlete in athletics. I’m done. I’m done.
Jill: I, I, you know what I really hope, remember on 2016, a few Russians got to compete. I hope that none of them start showing up in these results.
Alison: Yes. Because that was quite controversial.
And Sebastian Co. The head of World Athletics made some decisions that a lot of people were not happy about for 2016. So, fingers crossed.
[00:52:57] 2030 Winter Olympics Update
Jill: We have a little bit of news about 2030 the Winter games. The government of British Columbia does not support a Vancouver. First Nation’s 2030 bid. Listener, Billy posted the official statement in our Facebook group if you want to read it. Part of the reason that they gave is that they are hosting uh, some other high profile events in the coming year.
So they are part of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. And then they’re also hosting the 2025 Invictus Games. So the government said, Hey, we’ve got other competing priorities in the province, such as the cost of living. Healthcare, housing, public safety, and we don’t have a couple billion to drop on a, an Olympics in Paralympics at this time.
Alison: When I read the statement, it very much felt like Cousin Jane is tired of hosting Christmas and wants somebody else to take responsibility for it This time around. This makes 2030 very interesting.
All of a sudden, because Sapporo was having issues because of the Tokyo bribery scandal. Salt Lake City is problematic because of us having LA 28. And then if you’ve got us again for 2030, that’s a. Favoritism.
Jill: And it’s hard for the US on a sponsorship level. I mean, U S O P C has repeatedly said, We are ready to host whenever you need us.
And they have a solid bid. They don’t need to do a lot of building. They have to build some venues I think for sports that weren’t around in 2002, but they have a solid budget. They have stuff in place, they’re ready to go. It’s just the competing sponsorship with LA 2028 that makes it a problem to raise money that they need.
Alison: So Vancouver was really seen as the front runner and this whole idea of the First Nations being involved made so much sense and, and gave such [00:55:00] a, a lovely gloss to this application, which makes me wonder. Hey, Nordic countries, Stockholm, do you still have your file ready, . Cause we’re running outta choices here,
Jill: right? You gotta wonder if the committee is just kind of reaching out to people. and it’s tough. it was sad because on the surface you think, Oh, this First Nation’s bid was so unique and would be so interesting to see and acted. and we would learn so much from that organization.
But when the government puts it out like, Hey, we got two other like worldwide events come into town in the next less than four years. Those are expensive and just maybe we’re getting event overload.
Alison: Well, maybe my dream that I talked about a few weeks ago was prescient again. You know, I was right about Canadian gymnastics, maybe a joint Vancouver, Vancouver bid could save this whole thing.
I’m being sarcastic, but I’m also being serious. Like, maybe the way to save this is to really rethink this in a way, you know, let’s. Country, Country beds. Why not?
Jill: Right? Because you’re right, the Winter Olympics particularly are having some struggles with getting cities who are interested in hosting that we know of because that is the one part of the process.
We don’t hear who’s interested in bidding. Ed Hula from Around the Rings said there may be talk of a joint award for 2030, in 2034, because now we have so few cities who are interested in hosting the winter games.
But I don’t think that’s gonna happen the way it happened for 2024 and 2028, because we don’t have these major beauty pageants, for lack of a better word.
Alison: And 24 and 28, they did very much because they wanted to start the commission, the bid commission. So they wanted to give themselves, the IOC wanted to give themselves some time and space.
To set up that new process. There’s no reason to award 30 and 34 together. We’re not redoing the bid process. Again, they don’t need the time and space. If anything, they need less time for host cities for things to go wrong. Right. ,
Jill: Right? Like global issues were like, or things like
Alison: that. A giant war,
Yeah, and it’s just that, that the games do get more and more complex and they take more and more time to put together it seems like. But you also have to wonder like how I, Is LA having so much time and Brisbane having so much time to put something together, is that detrimental in a way because you do have some staff that you are paying for?
For a longer time than you normally would have, or does that make a difference? I don’t, I don’t know what the costs of having these organizing committees open for years longer than you would’ve had does. Maybe we look into that.
Alison: Well, what I really like to look into is: Stockholm, brush off that bid book.
Oh, I so wanna go to Stockholm for a Winter Games because you know, it would just be so good.
Jill: I’m with you.
Alison: We could take a roller coaster to Latvia.
Jill: Oh, that would be great.
Jill: Even a hydrofoil.
Alison: Somebody call the Swedes and talk them into it. We didn’t mean to break up with you. It was a moment of madness. We want you back.
Jill: Well, if you’ve got thoughts on the 20 30, 20 34 Winter Olympics, let us know. We’ve got a little conversation going on in the Facebook group, and I, we love hearing what you think about this. we would also like to thank our supporters who keep our flame alive every week.
If this show provides value to you, please consider giving back, and you can find a number of ways to do firstname.lastname@example.org slash support. So that’s going to do it for this week. Let us know what you learned about short track speed skating.
Alison: You can email us at Flame Alive podd gmail.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348.
That’s 2 0 8. Flame it. Our social handle is at Flame Alive Pod. And be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook where I will be posting many photos of the new National Flower of Shook Liston the flame.
Jill: Excellent. So next week we have a big show planned that is very Paris 2024 focused and will have information that you would like to know.
But as we like to say, the interview has not happened. So it doesn’t happen until it happens. So knock on wood that all things work out, and we will have a great interview for you next week. In the meantime, thank you so much for listening and until then, keep the flame alive.