GANGNEUNG, South Korea — More times than not in short-track speedskating, it takes some slowing down to sort things out. That is why most races have two finishes.
The first is not much more than a blur, skaters darting in and out of traffic, colors whirling in a tight pack around tight ovals, one or more occasionally spit from orbit and sent crashing into thick safety pads at the rink’s edges.
That is exciting. There are cheers and groans as the survivors cross the finish line and the results light the scoreboard.
And then everything slows, almost to a stop, as if the whole event needs to make up for its chaos and find its equilibrium. The race is not always over. Referees huddle at the side wearing headphones and watching monitors, playing and replaying the replays. Fans in the arena and at home see replays, too. Athletes wait nervously for the verdict. Minutes pass.