Kristen Santos competes in a Women's 500 meter quarterfinal during day 1 of the US Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials on Dec. 17, 2021 in Kearns, Utah.

Short track speedskating has been thrilling fans with its fast-paced, action-packed races since the sport made its Olympic debut in 1992. Featuring packs of athletes racing against each other — rather than against the clock, as in long track speedskating — short track is known for its aggressive racing, gnarly crashes and wild finishes.

Team USA comes into Beijing as the fourth most decorated country in Olympic short track, with four gold medals and 20 total. South Korea, with 24 gold and 48 total medals, has dominated the sport, with China and Canada not far behind. However, at the most recent world championships, it was Hungary and the Netherlands who dominated. The Hungarians won two of the five men’s events, while Dutch star Suzanne Schulting swept the individual titles and helped her team win the relay.

In a change from recent Olympic Winter Games, it’s the women leading the charge for Team USA this year. Kristen Santos highlights the five-woman team, along with 2018 Olympian Maame Biney. They’ll be joined by two U.S. men, both of whom are making their Olympic debuts.

Competition in Beijing will include the usual three individual events for men and women — 500-, 1,000- and 1,500-meters — as well as a 3,000-meter relay for the women and 5,000-meter relay for the men. The Beijing Games will also include the Olympic debut of a 2,000-meter mixed relay. Olympic competition is set to be held at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, a venue made famous when it hosted visiting U.S. table tennis players for a 1971 exhibition that became known as “ping pong diplomacy.”

Updated on January 28, 2022. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

The U.S. women are looking to claim their first Olympic medal in short track since 2010, when Katherine Reutter won a silver medal in the 1,000 and helped the relay claim a bronze medal. Kristen Santos could be Team USA’s best bet to change that. She was fourth in the 500 at last year’s world championships and notched her first world cup win earlier this season in the 1,000.

Led by stars like Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski, the U.S. men have been consistent medal threats at recent Olympics. Now in a rebuilding mode, this year’s team features just two men, both of whom will be making their Olympic debuts. If they fall short of the podium, it would mark the first time since 1998 that an American man fails to medal in short track.

The U.S. women earned an Olympic berth in the relay for the first time since 2010, and the U.S. men failed to qualify their relay for the first time since 1992. However, the guys will still have an opportunity for relay hardware thanks to the new mixed relay event that features two men and two women.

Maame Biney (Reston, Virginia): Biney was one of the starlets for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Games, when she became the first Black woman to make a U.S. speedskating team. Just 18 at the time, her experience in PyeongChang was mostly a learning opportunity. Now 21, she has a junior world title to her name in the 500 and looks to be most competitive in the short race.

Ryan Pivirotto (Ann Arbor, Michigan): Four years after traveling to PyeongChang but having to watch the competition as an alternate, Pivirotto gets his shot in Beijing. The 26-year-old is ranked among the top 35 in all three distances this season but was top-15 in the 500 and 1,000 at last year’s world championships.

Kristen Santos (Fairfield, Connecticut): The 27-year-old Santos goes to Beijing as Team USA’s top medal hope in short track. Four years ago she fell just short of making her first Olympic team while recovering from a nasty blade cut. In the years since she’s emerged as a threat across all three individual distances. Santos finished one spot off the podium in the 500 at last year’s world championships and is ranked among the top 10 in the world in all three distances going into Beijing.

Meet the full U.S. short track speedskating team in this article

Feb. 5 – Mixed team relay
Feb. 7 – Women’s 500-meter, men’s 1,000-meter
Feb. 9 – Men’s 1,500-meter
Feb. 11 – Women’s 1,000-meter
Feb. 13 – Men’s 500-meter, women’s 3,000-meter relay
Feb. 16 – Women’s 1,500-meter, men’s 5,000-meter relay