Influence of starting position on finishing position in World Cup 500 m short track speed skating

Sean Maw, Lisa Proctor, Jessica Vredenburg, Peter Ehlers
Journal of Sports Sciences 2006, 24 (12): 1239-46
Top short track speed skaters and their coaches have suspected that starting positions influence finishing positions, especially in the 500 m racing distance. The objective of this study was to examine systematically the influence of starting position on finishing position in 500 m short track speed skating. The data analysed included results from World Cup 500 m races ranging from the 1999-2000 season through to the end of the 2003-2004 season. All 500 m men's and women's races with four skaters starting and finishing (preliminaries, heats, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals) were included in the data set. The association between starting position and finishing position was examined using Kendall's tau. Results show that for both sexes, there is a significant positive correlation between starting position and finishing position (P<0.001). This effect is generally more pronounced in semi-finals and finals than it is in preliminaries, heats and quarter-finals. Strategies to counter this inequity are proposed, drawing upon similar experiences in other sports.

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