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Effects of drafting during short-track speed skating


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 1996 - Volume 28 - Issue 6 - p 765-771
Special Communications: Technical Note

Short-track speed skating involves pack-style racing where five to seven skaters may be on the ice at once. Since average speed for a 3000-m event may exceed 35 km·-1, drafting may be beneficial. However, the short(111 m) oval track could limit effective drafting space, and high forces required in cornering may compromise potential benefits. We evaluated heart rate (HR)-lactate (LA) responses and post-drafting 3-lap sprint performance using 18 National Team and developmental skaters. Two 4-min trials, one drafting and one leading at 8.8 m·s-1, were performed. In addition, six skaters performed three 3-lap sprints, rested, immediately after a 4-min drafting trial at 9.2 m·s-1, and immediately after an unaided 4-min trial at 9.2 m·s-1. Results demonstrated lower HR and LA responses during drafting (174.0 ± 9.0 and 5.56 ± 2.18 vs 180.4 ± 8.7 and 7.75, P < 0.05) at 8.8 m·s-1. After 4-min trials at 9.2 m·s-1, HR deltas were 6 bpm, lactate values were 9.00 ± 1.84 and 5.22 ± 1.18 for unaided and drafting, respectively. Sprint performance was better following drafting (33.46 ± 1.19 vs 34.03 s, P < 0.05). HR and LA deltas during the 8.8 m·s-1 trials ranged from 0.8 to 12.4 and-0.18 to 5.37, respectively, indicating that some skaters were more effective drafters than others. These results suggest that drafting could be an important strategy in short-track speed skating, and drafting technique should be emphasized in training.

Sports Science and Technology Division, United States Olympic Committee, Lake Placid, NY

Submitted for publication January 1995.

Accepted for publication January 1996.

Much appreciation is extended to coaches Jeroen Otter and Pat Wentland for their patience and assistance in data collection. Special thanks goes to OTC resident intern Ty Goodwin and Vince Amico for their assistance in data collection and data entry. Thanks are also extended to the National Short Track Team and the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center resident speed skaters who participated in this study.

Address for correspondence: Kenneth W. Rundell, Ph.D., Sports Science and Technology Division, United States Olympic Committee, 421 Old Military Rd., Lake Placid, NY 12946.

©1996The American College of Sports Medicine