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The sport of Short Track speed skating had its origins in North America, in the early 1900's. Short Track was known as "indoor" skating, and it's more conservative counterpart, Long Track, was known as "outdoor" skating.
Short Track was developed in part due to the lack of available 400-meter ovals for Long Track skaters to practice on. The skaters often times found themselves forced to practice on hockey rinks, and a segment of Long Track skaters began to concentrate on skating the smaller oval and tight turns that would eventually develop into modern Short Track. In later years, even after the sport achieved recognition by the International Skating Union, Long Track athletes and Short Track athletes share practice ice, and Long Track athletes are able to better their sprint times and turns by studying Short Track skating.
The United States and Canada organized the first Short Track contest in 1906 and the first international championship was held in 1921. Short Track grew in popularity in North America and Canada throughout the '20's and '30's. At the Olympic Games in 1932, the Long Track organization was granted permission from the I.S.U. to re-organize the Long Track competition to more simulate the growing popularity of Short Track skating. For the first time, Long Track skaters raced "pack style" against each other as well as against the clock, with the then current North American racing rules. [Note: 2002 Olympic Skeleton Gold Medalist Jim Shea's grandfather Jack, skated this version of Long Track at those Olympic Games - and won two Gold Medals for the United States!]
Short Track held its' the first World events in 1976 and 1977, and the sport was officially recognized by the International Skating Union in 1978. The first official World Championship was held in 1981 in Meudon-la-Foret, France. Offered as an exhibition sport at the Calgary Olympic Games in 1988, Short Track was officially deemed an Olympic Event in the Games at Albertville in 1992.