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Instrumented Speed Skates

Speed Skating Canada first approached Motus in 2016 with a request for a tool for measuring and recording real-time force output by long track speed skaters.  The measurement had to be done under regular skating conditions and minimally affect the feel or ergonomics of skating.

First Principles

A detailed analysis determined that a convenient place to measure the forces in a clap skate system would be at the pivot point, where the frame that attaches to the boot connects to the blade assembly.  Strain gauges located at the front and rear mounting points would then be able to determine the propulsive force generated by the skater.

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An Integrated Approach

Motus leveraged existing sport measurement technology previously developed for other Canadian olympic sports: Motus Review (data visualization software), Motus Podia (hardware for high frequency data collection), and core force transducer and analog instrumentation technologies.  This combination allows coaches and athletes to review force data with video to better understand how technique affects performance.

Performance is Key

The stack height of the skates was a significant challenge. The front and rear transducers required their own unique designs, each measuring multiple axes of forces and torsion on single sets of strain gauges on single transducers. The result was an instrumented clapper mechanism that was the exact same stack height as the original, and designed to withstand twice the peak force of the strongest Olympic speed skaters.

After verifying the skate force response in the lab, the final step was to validate the design in the field. Motus brought in our friend and former professional short track speed skater, Isaac Leblanc, to perform on-ice testing with the skates in two categories.

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A Winning Solution

The first pair of instrumented clap skates were delivered to the Canadian Sport Institute in March 2020.  Motus continues to support the team in Calgary with mechanical assembly and data analysis.

At the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, Team Canada won 5 medals in speed skating - tied for the second most.  Speed Skating Canada continues to offer one of the strongest programs in the sport, exemplified by their world-class performances and technological achievements.

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