The mechanics of speed skating the curves is described in a mathematical model, using the sideward push-off characteristics of the propulsion and the cyclic nature of the movement. Theoretical and experimental relations between mechanical work per stroke, stroke frequency, and speed were studied with Olympic speed skaters. High-speed film and video measurements collected at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary provided the basic experimental data. Because of the ideal external conditions (indoor Olympic Oval) and the large numbers of optimally prepared specialists participating, unique scientific results on technical aspects of speed skating could be obtained. Statistical analysis and theoretical considerations showed that stroke frequency can be judged as the major regulator of speed. Unexpectedly, it was not possible to detect changes in speed within one lap.
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.