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To gain more insight in pacing behavior and tactical positioning in 1500-m short-track speed skating, a sport in which several athletes directly compete in the same race.


Lap times and intermediate rankings of elite 1500-m short-track-skating competitors were collected over the season 2012–13 (N = 510, 85 races). Two statistical approaches were used to assess pacing behavior and tactical positioning. First, lap times were analyzed using a MANOVA, and for each lap differences between sex, race type, final rankings, and stage of competition were determined. Second, Kendall tau b correlations were used to assess relationships between intermediate and final rankings. In addition, intermediate rankings of the winner of each race were examined.


In 1500 m (13.5 laps of 111.12 m), correlations between intermediate and final ranking gradually increased throughout the race (eg, lap 1, r = .05; lap 7, r = .26; lap 13, r = .85). Moreover, the percentage of race winners skating in the leading position was over 50% during the last 3 laps. Top finishers were faster than bottom-place finishers only during the last 5 laps, with on average 0.1- to 1.5-s faster lap times of the race winners compared with the others during the last 5 laps.


Although a fast start led to faster finishing times, top finishers were faster than bottom-placed finishers only during the last 5 laps. Moreover, tactical positioning at 1 of the foremost positions during the latter phase of the race appeared to be a strong determinant of finishing position.

The authors are with the School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, UK.

Address author correspondence to Florentina Hettinga at
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance