Monday, February 9, 1998
Records stuck to tape debate
First there was the clap flap.
Now there's the tape debate.
Speed skating sure has had its share of technical controversies over the past year.
When Canadian long-trackers began smashing world records this season using the new clap skates, many of the world's other skating powers scrambled to perfect the new technology, and many are still attempting to catch up at these Games.
And now, there is something called "go-faster stripes" - strips of black rubber strategically placed on the skaters' racing suits on the shins and forehead. The strips apparently break up air and help reduce vacuum pockets which can slow a skater.
On Sunday night at the M-Wave Arena, the 5,000-metre world record was broken three times within an hour by skaters using the strips. Eventual winner Gianni Romme of the Netherlands wore the strips to a world-record time of 6:22.20, lowering the record by a shocking eight seconds. Netherlands head coach Hank Gemser said the strips, developed at the same university in Delft where the clap skates were formed, can cut a half second per lap by reducing drag.
Canadian and U.S. skaters competing in the M-Wave, began last-minute experiments with the strips, but to no avail. The top Canadian, Steven Elm of Red Deer, Alta., finished 23rd, 26.47 seconds behind Romme.