Celebrating last-place finishes at the Olympics. Because they're there, and you're not.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Qualifying Rules: Short Track

Part of a series looking at just how hard it is to get to the Olympics; see previous posts on biathlon and cross country skiing, ski jumping and nordic combined, and speed skating.

Short track speed skating's qualifying rules are a little less straightforward. Quotas everywhere. First of all, there's a total quota of 110 athletes -- 55 men, 55 women -- and a national quota of 10 (five and five) per country if they're sending a relay team, or eight (four and four) if they aren't.

Each country gets a fixed number of athletes per individual event based on their athletes' performance in World Cup trials, and there are a maximum of 32 athletes per individual event. If you have three athletes in the top eight, you get three places; if you have two athletes in the top 32, you get two places; the rest are filled by the highest-ranked athletes from other countries until the quota of 32 per event is filled.

Only the top eight national teams participate in relay events -- and Italy, as host, is guaranteed a spot even if they aren't in the top eight. (Italy's a relatively strong short-track country, though.)

I'm amazed that they can make all these quotas agree with one another; surely there have to be conflicts here and there.

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