HOW FAST CAN YOU REALLY SKATE?
USE THE SPEED CALCULATOR !
 1.  Enter the Distance in Meters:  Meters 
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 2.  Enter the Time in Seconds: Seconds
 3.  Click button to calculate Speed:
True Speed in Miles Per Hour: MPH
True Speed in Kilometers Per Hour: KPH
by Jerry Search, Southern California Speed Skating Association

From an article originally appearing in The Racing Blade, November 1994:

    For many years I have heard various statements of the actual speed in miles per hour (MPH) that speed skaters skate, anywhere from 20 to 40 MPH.  Now, with the advent of computers, and with help from Greg Wong of the Northern California Speed Skating Association, who wrote a spread sheet that computes the speed, and a neat guy on the internet who goes by the name "Cyanide_7", who wrote this java script for us, you can find the actual speed for various speed skaters, including yourself!

   Before you use the Speed Calculator, please keep in mind two very important points.  First, in Short Track speed skating, the skaters rarely skate the actual measured distance on the track, usually skating a somewhat wider track, and therefore farther than the measured 111.12 meters per lap. This is because it is actually faster (more efficient) to skate a wider turn than the track size. Click here for an illustration!

    In 1993, the 500 Meter World Short Track Record of 43.08 seconds was skated by the Italian skater Vuillermin "rail to rail", so to speak (and with one arm on his back!).  After watching that race on TV, I went down to the rink and measured his approximate track by hand on the ice (with a wheeled measuring tool), and came up with a one lap distance of about 117 meters.  This would make his actual World Record distance probably closer to 520 meters, maybe more!  Thus, his speed was close to 27 MPH (43.5 KPH for you folks outside the U.S.)

    Second, and a more important fact, is that these are AVERAGE times over the entire distance. If you calculate a 500 meter distance, you get the average speed, which includes the standing start.  This is why you should use the shortest distance possible to find the fastest speed you can skate.  This would be most representative of the highest true speed.  And remember that the stop-and-go tactics of pack-style skating also influence times, and true speed.  Therefore...

    If you have the opportunity to have timed "flying 1-laps", then this would be your fastest true speed (although you could probably skate a little faster in a long track straight-away sprint of maybe 100 meters).  If you cannot get a flying lap timed, just enter your best time in a short race, like a 333 (300 for Long Track) or a 500.

    Just to answer the big question of "How fast can a speedskater really skate?", try entering the current (2001) 500 meter World Record for Long Track, 34.32.  See what you get!  Hint:  It's pretty fast!!

    Keeping track of your own fastest times, or Personal Records (PR's), is probably one of the best ways to gauge your improvement as a speed skater.  If you just go out and race, the place you came in is not really the best indicator of how you are improving.  For instance, if you are usually right in there with some other skaters, and then at one particular meet, they beat you, did you skate poorly?  Maybe, but what if that race was a Personal Record for you?  What if it was a "PR" by several seconds?  What if you get beat by someone you always beat?  If you got a PR in that race, then then you did skate the best you could (assuming that you  didn't make other mistakes (like bad passing, etc.) during the race). By keeping track of your race times, at least in the shorter distances, you will have a much better idea of how you skated, and how you are improving.

    Don't get me wrong, it's fun to win, and it's good to try to beat someone.  But you still need a good guide to chart your improvements.  Who you beat (or who beats you) just doesn't provide that information. The whole point of our sport (besides having fun) is gradually getting faster, as well as becoming a better skater.

Hope you like the Speed Calculator!

Jerry Search, SCSSA

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