Acceptance of the klap speed skate was fully realized on the world speed skating scene in 1997. However, one of the most important unknowns regarding the klapskate was the positioning of the point of foot rotation (pivot point), which is believed to play an important role in optimizing klapskate performance. The purposes of this study were to explore the ankle, knee, and hip joint mechanical changes that occurred when the pivot point location was modified, and to determine whether maximal ankle torques provide predictive ability as to where the optimal pivot point positioning is for a skater. We tested 16 proficient skaters at three pivot point (PP) locations, ranging from just in front of the metatarsal-phalangeal joint to just in front of the first phalangeal joint. Of the 16 skaters, 10 were tested at a fourth position: tip of the toe. Push phase kinetics and kinematics were measured on a modified slide board. The optimal PP for each skater was defined as the position that allowed him to generate the most total push energy. Maximum voluntary static torque measures of the ankle and knee were collected on a Biodex dynamometer. Overall, anterior pivot point shifting led to a significant increase in ankle energy generated and a decrease in knee energy generated, with no significant change at the hip joint. We found no significant correlations between the static strength measures and the skaters' optimal pivot points.
The authors are with the Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada.