Competition takes place on a 111.12-meter oval (about one-fourth the size of a regular speed skating track), laid out on an indoor rink built to international ice hockey dimensions (NHL rinks are about four meters too narrow). There are no lanes. Only the turns are delineated (with seven markers per turn). The number of laps per event are as follows:
500m: 4½ laps
1000m: 9 laps
1500m: 13½ laps
3000m relay (women only): 27 laps
5000m relay (men only): 45 laps
An athlete can be disqualified in the following ways:
(1) IMPEDING: deliberately blocking, charging, impeding, or pushing another competitor
(2) TWO FALSE STARTS
(3) OFF-TRACK: skating inside the turn markers
(4) CROSSTRACK: improperly crossing the path of another skater
(5) SLOWING DOWN: slowing down unnecessarily
(6) TEAM SKATING: in which skaters conspire to affect the outcome of the race
(7) KICKING OUT: deliberately kicking out a skate and endangering another skater anywhere in the race; also throwing oneself across the finish line is forbidden
Disqualifications are called after the race concludes. When there is a violation, or if someone takes out another athlete in a fall, the victim of the infraction may be allowed to advance, providing he was in contention to advance otherwise; advancement is the discretion of the chief referee. When athletes are allowed to advance, it is possible to have a heat - or even a final - with more than the usual four skaters.
Once a skater is eliminated in the heats or quarterfinal, he/she is finished. There is no repechage. Each event (except the relays) have an A final and a B final. The A final determines the medalists. The B final, or consolation final, determines placement. However, it is possible for a B finalist to earn a medal if, for example, fewer than three athletes complete the A final without disqualification.
If a skater qualifies for an individual final and is injured before it is contested, he or she is not replaced. This is important because only one short track event will commence and conclude on the same day at the Torino Games: the 1500m. The 500m and 1000m finals will be contested three days after the competition begins, and the relays have a 10-day gap between the semifinals and the final.