The 1988 Winter Olympic Games provided a unique opportunity to study large numbers of optimally prepared speed skaters during ideal ice and weather conditions for all the competitors (indoor Olympic Oval in Calgary). In this study a kinematic analysis was conducted of the gliding and push-off technique during the Men’s and Ladies' 1,500-m and 5,000-m races. Statistical analysis showed that factors such as trunk position, preextension knee angle, and peak knee and hip angular velocities failed to correlate with mean lap speed. Within such a homogeneous group of elite athletes it was found that the higher work per stroke of the faster skaters was correlated to a longer gliding phase and a more horizontally directed push-off. All skaters showed plantar flexion at the end of the stroke, which is undesirable and indicates the complex nature of the gliding and push-off technique in speed skating.
Ruud W. de Boer, formerly with Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, is now with Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht, Fysiologisch laboratorium, Vondellaan 24, 3521 GG Utrecht, The Netherlands. Kim L. Nilsen is with the Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4.