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The new Short Track Speed Skating Olympic season starts with a bang. The first action of 2021/22, an ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating event, takes place on October 21-24, 2021 in Beijing (CHN), and serves as the official test event for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

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Action from the 2019 ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht (NED) © International Skating Union (ISU)

Competition then moves the following weekend, October 28-31, to Nagoya (JPN). There will be a short break before racing picks up again in Europe on November 18-21, firstly in Debrecen (HUN) followed by the last event, from November 25-28, which will be hosted in Dordrecht (NED).

The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating series consists of four events during 2021/22 instead of the usual five or six and they are all qualifying events for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in February.

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Wu Dajing (CHN) © International Skating Union (ISU)

The season continues in the new year with the ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dresden (GER) and the ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Salt Lake City (USA). Both Championships will take place on January 14-16, 2022 and represent the last chance for skaters to get some racing experience in them before they head to Beijing.

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Choi Min Jeong (KOR) © International Skating Union (ISU)

The Junior skaters will have the opportunity to get back on the ice again to compete at the ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk (POL) on March 4-6, 2022, and the season concludes in Montreal (CAN) with the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships 2022 on March 18-20.

It should be the first full season of the sport in three years, after 2019/20 and 2020/21 were disrupted by Covid-19, and a couple of huge questions remain to be answered: firstly, who has emerged in the best shape from the pandemic? And, secondly, can a new generation of brilliant European and North American racers upset Asia’s traditional dominance of the sport?

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Suzanne Schulting (NED) © International Skating Union (ISU)

China will be looking to excel this season. Hosting Beijing 2022 gives them extra motivation: they must shine on home ice as the world turns its attention to their capital.

Keen to challenge the Chinese will be their traditional Short Track rivals from the Republic of Korea, the sport’s powerhouse.

All eyes will be on other nations with high-profile skaters who have created a real name for themselves. The Netherlands, Canada, Hungary, Great Britain, Italy and USA all boast Olympic and World Champions and medalists who have prepared for this all-important season.

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Hungary's Liu brothers celebrate during 2019's ISU European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht (NED) © International Skating Union (ISU)

Short Track is always unpredictable and after two years of fragmented competition it is impossible to predict who will be at the top of their game. Expect new and familiar names to battle it out to book their ticket to Beijing 2022.