Rubbing is racing.
Credit: George Frey / Getty Images

Unlike most winter sports, short track is one of the few in which athletes make physical contact with each other. "Oh yeah, there's bumping and guys running into each other," Jayner says. "What do they say in NASCAR, 'Rubbing is racing?' Sometimes you just have to deal with it."

Mixing it up physically – sometimes unintentionally, most of the time not, according to Jayner – can play out in different ways. A small bump might be enough for a challenger to pass the leader. Or it could lead to a Daytona-esque field-clearing pileup.

The key, per Jayner, is to take the contact in stride. "Being calmer in those situations has definitely helped me. It's about refocusing on how to get back to the front," he says. "I can only control what I do. If I focus on things outside of my control, it's wasted energy."