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Purpose:

To explore pacing behavior and tactical positioning during the shorter 500- and 1000-m short-track competitions.

Methods:

Lap times and intermediate rankings of elite 500- and 1000-m short-track-skating competitors were collected over the 2012–13 season. First, lap times were analyzed using a MANOVA, and for each lap, differences between sex, race type, final ranking, 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.

Results:

Top-placed athletes appeared faster than bottom-placed athletes in every lap in the 500-m, while in the 1000-m no differences were found until the final 4 laps (P < .05). Correlations between intermediate and final rankings were already high at the beginning stages of the 50-m (lap 1: r = .59) but not for the 1000-m (lap 1: r = .21).

Conclusions:

Although 500- and 1000-m short-track races are both relatively short, fundamental differences in pacing behavior and tactical positioning were found. A fast-start strategy seems to be optimal for 500-m races, while the crucial segment in 1000-m races seems to be from the 6th lap to the finish line (ie, after ± 650 m). These findings provide evidence to suggest that athletes balance between choosing an energetically optimal profile and the tactical and positional benefits that play a role when riding against an opponent, as well as contributing to developing novel insights in exploring athletic behavior when racing against opponents.

Noorbergen, Konings, Micklewright, and Hettinga are with the Centre for Sports and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, UK. Elferink-Gemser, as well as Noorbergen, is with the Center for Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands. Elferink-Gemser is also with the HAN University of Applied Sciences, Arnhem and Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Address author correspondence to Florentina Hettinga at fjhett@essex.ac.uk.