- Speed Skating
Speed skating's 1000m: Momentum and speed
Wednesday’s and Thursday’s men’s and women’s 1000m races are "deceptively fast." Yes, I know it is called speed skating, so all of the races are fast. However, everyone thinks of the 500m races is the fastest race on ice.
It just isn‘t true. If you take the 1000m times and split them in half, the 500m average for the race is typically faster than the 500 meter times.
Let’s look at world records:
Men’s 500m world record - 34.02
Men’s 1000m world record - 1:06.42 (500 average - 33.21)
Women’s 500m world record - 36.36
Women’s 1000m world record - 1:12.58 (500 average - 36.29)
So as you can see the 1000m is faster.
Why? I am not 100% sure why, but my belief is it has a lot to do with momentum.
This is still considered a sprint, but there is some energy conservation so the skaters have something left for the end of the race.
The race is 2 ½ laps in length and starts on the backstretch. The starting lines are staggered by 10m to compensate for the differences between inner and outer lane.
They will be starting very fast and aggressive for the first half of a lap (200m), then it is conservation mode.
Some time around 200m most skaters will put one arm on their back in an attempt to conserve energy. Unlike the longer races where they put two arms on their back, in the 1000 meter race they use one arm to maintain momentum, rhythm, and timing.
That arm will typically stay on their back until the final straightaway, and some skaters never take that arm off their back.
As the skaters fly around the track they will receive times and information from their coaches on the back stretch while changing lanes. The skaters will likely receive their opener time (first 200m) and each lap time.
There are a couple different strategies in this race based on a skater’s strengths and weaknesses.
Embedded video_content_type: The pain of speed skating glory
If a skater has a fast start but not a great last lap, they may look at getting out to a fast start and hold on. They will look at being first to the 600m mark (1 ½ lap) because they will have a big drop in their final lap speed.
Conversely, if a skater doesn’t have all that fast of a start, that skater will be looking to stay aggressive during the entire race. This type of skater would be looking to be as close as possible to the leaders at the 600m mark because they know their speed won‘t drop off as much .
Maybe you are seeing the trend where the 600m mark is the crucial point in the race. Some want to be there first and get a cushion, and some look to be close because they have a better final lap than others.
The last lap is where you will see a difference between the good openers and good closers.
The good openers will start really showing fatigue with about ½ a lap to go. The good closers will show some signs of fatigue in the last 50-100m.
Some of the tell tale signs of fatigue are:
- Decrease in knee bend
- Shorter pushes
- Pushing back
- My favorite: the skater trying to push on their legs with one or both hands.
In the end all skaters will face fatigue. The skater who can deal with it the best and maintain their momentum will likely be the skater who will win.
One final point of interest: American speed skater Shani Davis is chasing history, and has a great chance of succeeding. Shani is trying to become the first skater to win the three 1000m Olympic gold medals back-to-back-to-back.
If he can hold his speed and momentum, he will be hard to beat.