The Speedskater’s Crash

(Alternate title: A Short-tracker’s Short-circuit.)

At high speeds, every pass is a risky maneuver.


In a short-track speed-skating race, the pack is a competitive group where each individual must rely on others not to make catastrophic choices. That is, if they want to stay on their feet.

To make matters more difficult, any pack of skaters must also obey strict sorting rules, only reshuffling within the window of a narrow straight-away. If the pack isn’t lined up just right before they hit the corner – boom. People go down.

And worse, the decision behind every pass isn’t up to the pack, but rather the individual skaters. It’s always possible for one reckless skater to force a crash by making a dumb pass or a risky maneuver, selfishly colliding with another skater who was wisely playing by the rules.

Lastly, when each skater makes their choice, that decision is two-fold: The skater must decide whether or not to attempt the pass and also whether or not to pass via the “inside lane” or the “outside lane.”

An outside pass allows more leeway, with extra time to back off in case of failure; But outside passes are also harder, requiring more build-up speed and thereby making ultimate success less likely.

Regardless of each skater’s choices, if the pack hasn’t reached a valid “linear state configuration” by the time it reaches the apex, a collision will occur.

A pack overflow error, if you will.


Be mindful. Choose wisely. Also, there won’t be enough time to really think or choose at all.

Good luck! 👍


… also by the way not super-important but I was actually in the arena when this happened and it was an unbelievably glorious-but-forgotten olympian moment, another timeless classic of human history. Dude wasn’t even supposed to be there.

Bravo Australia.

Just, Bravo.

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