TRACK SPEED SKATES
as you can probably tell, I originally wrote this page a very long time
ago, and the last update was just about 10 years ago!! Well, as soon
as I get time (),
I'll re-write it to make it more in line with the times! JS (12/2007)
of this is due to the vast difference in track sizes. The standard
long track is close to four times larger than the short track. The
larger size track means that the skates need less support, and the blades
do not have to be off-set to the left, as in short track.
are two basic types of speed skates: Short Track and Long Track. Long track
boots are lower cut than short track boots, and the blade is also
somewhat flatter than a short track blade.
least up until 1997, probably the best example of the Long Track speed
skate was the Viking shown on the left, below. For comparison, on the right
is a standard Short Track speed skate.
Track Speed Skate
Track Speed Skate
in the winter of 1996-1997, a new type of Long Track speed skate entered
the scene. Whether you call (or spell) it "klap", "clap", "slap",
you will be hearing a lot about this new skate very soon.
clap skate blade is hinged at the front attachment, which allows the
blade to hinge out from the heel at the end of the stroke. This permits
the blade to stay in contact with the ice a little longer each stroke.
The skate makes a noise ("clap") when the built in spring snaps the blade
back into position, hence the name.
it seems somewhat radical, apparently everyone agrees that this skate is
shaving about 1 second per lap (on a 400 meter track) from the skaters'
times. In August,1997, the International Skating Union (ISU) "officially
approved" this style skate "for use in all competition, including the Olympic
you short trackers out there, when the Laberge Short Track skate first
appeared in the early 1980's, to most it too looked pretty radical and
downright ugly, compared to the traditional Planert skate.
blade mechanism is only open for brief instant at the end of the push.
Therefore it's about as easy to get a good skating photograph of it fully
opened as it is to get a good picture of a UFO :-).
The best I could do in my short visit to the Pettit Center in Milwaukee
in the summer of 1997 was this picture of Catherine Raney, at the end of
first glance, the clap skate looks pretty much like a regular long track
skate. However, the attachment system, not quite visible in the photo,
is very different.
skate is shown here with the blade extended, as it would be at the end
of the push. This allows the skater to add push with the front of the foot
(ankle) efficiently and without digging in the toes (see next)...
the right is a picture of David Besteman in Butte, Montana, in 1990. You
can see the use of the toes for that extra little bit of energy at the
end of the push, but with the drawback of digging the toe in. The clap
mechanism gives this extra energy, without the drag.
is another brand of clap skate. The clap mechanism is mountable to any
number of boots (even short track boots), making it really versatile.
In this case, a Marchese long track boot. The blade mechanism is somewhat
different than the Viking shown above, but the function is pretty much
the same, that is, allowing the entire blade to remain in contact with
the ice for a slightly longer period each push, thereby increasing the
total power applied to the ice over the course of a race.
function of the spring used to return the blade to the boot
very obvious in this picture.
up-close and personal: A detailed look at a clap mechanism.
note (opinion): I have chosen to call this thing a "mechanism",
since it is mechanical in nature, that is, it has moving parts. However,
having seen it in action, and understanding the true mechanics of the push
with this thing, I personally do not see any "mechanical advantage" to
the clap skate. It simply allows for more efficient application of
the power to the ice. The spring is only there to return the blade
to the bottom of the boot.
custom boot with clap mechanism.
same skate, with the clap mechanism extended (and held open with an ink
pen). The spring tension is fairly strong, and is adjustable
the needs of each skater.
good view of the clap mechanism itself:
open (again, proped open with a pen). In the Viking photo earlier,
I edited the pen out of the picture. However, this also takes away
from the fact that the blade is under spring tension to return it ("clap")
back to the boot. In fact, the tension is pretty strong. In
one instance, while taking these pictures, the pen slipped out and I got
my finger snapped in the heel part! Ouch!!
view of the un-mounted clap mechanism. As you can see, the mounting
is a simple matter, as in a short track skate.
close up view of one type of clap heel post. (film can not included!)
Original Bont clap skate.
on the moving boot to visit the Bont Home page and find out
the latest Bont Clap skates.
forget to come back! :-)
Tamburrino gives us a static (posed) demonstration
his clap skates in action. Notice in the right picture that he is able
some push with his ankle without digging the toe into the ice.
Whitty's skates, November 1997. Great colorful design, they have
lace covers that zip up the center. Keeps the laces dry...and tied!
Elliott's skates. For years, long track boots were pretty boring.
Now a rainbow of snazzy new colors have arrived! The knitted blade
covers are to protect the blades while being carried around in a skate
bag. Heavier leather or plastic "guards" are used to walk to and
from the ice.
skates are available from Special
Equipment Company, as well as the Bonts.
Dec. 8, 1997