There are four titles for men and four for women under contention in Sochi. Athletes go head-to-head in individual 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m distances. National teams also compete in a 5,000m men's relay and a 3,000m women's relay.
Short track is an elimination event, where skaters race four to six at a time around an oval with no lanes. Unlike speed skating, racers compete against each other instead of a clock.
In individual heats, the first two or three racers across the line advance to the next round. Penalties based on judging calls apply if a skater is seen to cut off or impede another competitor, usually while passing.
The 500m is an all-out sprint featuring four racers at a time. A good start is vital as passing at speed is difficult.
For the 1,000m, strategy is key. Four skaters start out slowly and build up to top speed over nine laps.
The 1,500 demands stamina as the heats, semi-finals and final are staged on the same day. Six skaters race at a time over 13.5 laps.
Four skaters team up for the relay trading turns sprinting one-and-a-half or two laps at a time. High-speed changeovers are executed by a touch anywhere on the body. If a racer falls, a team mate can take over as long as the skaters touch.
Short-track debuted in 1992 as an Olympic sport at the Albertville Games and has since expanded to today's eight events. The sport was initially dominated by North America but China and South Korea are now leaders. Host nation Russia has also built up a strong team, having recruited South Korean Ahn Hyun-soo, five-time overall world champion from 2003-2007.
The short track competition will be held at the Iceberg Skating Palace at the heart of the Olympic park coastal cluster in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
The venue, which seats up to 12,000 spectators, will also host the figure skating. It cost an estimated $43.9 million to build, including the temporary works for the Olympics.
Canadian Charles Hamlin is a favourite going into the Games, ranking among the world's top three short track skaters in all three individual events.
Competing on home ice, Russia's Ahn and Vladimir Grigoryev are also strong contenders in each discipline.
The United States is placing its hopes in J.R. Celski after the retirement of eight-times Olympic medallist Apolo Anton Ohno, the most decorated American Winter Olympian ever.
China's best shot at medals in the men's distances are Han Tianyu and Wu Dajing, but women are the real powerhouse of the team. Although an ankle injury has sidelined four-times Olympic champion Wang Meng, her countrywomen, Fan Kexin and Zhou Yang, are well-placed to contest the podium in the 500m and in the 1,500m. They will battle South Korea in the 3,000m relay.
South Korea's team is led by teenage prodigy Shim Suk-hee, the overall world champion in the last two seasons. Italy's Arianna Fontana, Canada's Marianne St-Gelais and Britan's Elise Christie are also medal hopefuls.