The Relationship Between Start Performance and Race Outcome in Elite 500-m Short-Track Speed Skating

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Initial short-track speed-skating 14-m start performance has substantial influence on 500-m race outcome at the international level, yet the relationship has not been systematically quantified. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the relationship between rank position entering first corner (RPEFC) and race outcome and to understand how this relationship changes with competition round and absolute race intensity. Data were compiled from 2011–2014 World Cup seasons and 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Association between RPEFC and race outcome was determined through Kendall tau-rank correlations. A visual comparison was made of how the relationship changes with relative competition level (race tau correlations were sorted by competition round) and with race intensity (race tau correlations were sorted by within-event winning time). A very large relationship between RPEFC and race outcome was observed (correlations for cohort, τ = .60; men, τ = .53; women, τ = .67). When examined by competition round (quarter- to A-finals), no substantial change in relationship was observed (men, τ = .57–.46; women, τ = .73–.53). However, when the start–performance relationship was considered by within-event winning time, the relationship strength increased with decreasing time (men, τ = .61 to .46; women, τ = .76 to .57; fastest to 7th- and 8th-fastest combined, respectively). These results establish and quantify RPEFC as an important aspect of elite short-track 500-m race outcome. RPEFC as an indicator of race outcome becomes increasingly important with absolute race intensity, suggesting that RPEFC capability is a discriminating factor for competitors of similar top speed and speed endurance.

Haug, Mitchell, and Chapman are with the Australian Inst of Sport, Bruce, ACT, Australia. Drinkwater is with the School of Exercise and Health Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Bill Haug at