What starts out at as a slowish cat and mouse game for eight laps of a 13.5 lap race suddenly turns savage as seven women take risks, go for broke or stay behind Steven Bradbury style and wait for opportunity.
The end-result is rarely a bona-fide predictable outcome, and that is what makes Short Track speed skating a very attractive spectator sport.
Nowhere more so than in Korea, a nation that has excelled in the sport as has Australia.
OWIA athlete Deanna Lockett may be a lone Australian woman in the elite short track but she is well and truly in the mix and on any given day it would be unwise to discount her chances.
The level of training and preparation undertaken by the elite across the world is comparable, the opportunities to literally race through the field is not.
In the 1500m Ladies on Saturday, Deanna made it through to semi-final 3, ranked at 20th place.
It was a strategic start by all competitors who were jockeying for position. Deanna was back in sixth and then went to first at the 43 second mark. By 54 seconds she was in second and then fourth, which would be considered as well-positioned to take an opportunity with five laps to go.
But, as luck would have it, another competitor fell and took others with her, including Deanna.
Deanna was a bit “rattled” by the fall, said coach Nic Cicero but the opportunities were not over as Australia’s best female speedster was advanced to Final B.
The coach was protesting for a spot in the Final A, but it wasn’t to be.
Again, fourteen women went out to determine who was the best on the day in A and B Finals in the brand new Gangneung Ice Arena, which will be home for the speed and figure skaters at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.
Deanna’s Final B began with the jockeying for position, the pace picked up with eight laps to go and Deanna was sitting at the rear and she was still there with five laps to go.
The pace went over 40kms per hour (that’s faster than the School Safety Zone road limit) and Deanna whipped into 5th. That ranked her in 12th place overall for the 1500 metres in a World Cup on the day.
Short track is fascinating and often heart-breaking, yet always entertaining.
The Australian men had a mixed day with Alex Bryant and Kneau Blunden having solid 1500m repechage heats but then they drew to skate against each other in the semis. Alex was disqualified whilst Kneau skated strongly, just shy of the national record.
It wasn’t Pierre Boda’s day when he failed to make it out of the 1000m heats.
Tomorrow is another day and the Australian team will be racing from 3.50pm Sunday (AEDT).