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Data science helps in speed skating race for gold

Winning gold in speed skating at the Olympic Games is not just a matter of training hard; data science can also lend a hand. Jeroen van der Eb of the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) developed the measuring skate for this purpose, with which he recently won the Nationale Sportinnovator Prijs of 50,000 euros. Het Parool wrote an article about it.

Force distribution

The measuring skate is an instrument under the skate shoe that measures the forces that are exerted on the skate with various sensors. ‘In this way we can see exactly how skaters distribute the force on the ice,’ explains Van der Eb. ‘In combination with other data, we can thus measure the stroke frequency, for example.’

The ideal skating stroke

One of the points Van der Eb is researching is the 'ideal skating stroke', the technique that in theory produces the best results. With the data from the measuring skate he can further investigate what this 'ideal skating stroke' should look like and help skaters improve their technique. The data should also help to improve the skates themselves. Van der Eb also hopes to be able to measure the skaters’ power output, which can then be used to determine the intensity of the training.


With the 50,000 Euros Van der Eb can continue the project and let the top skaters in the Netherlands ride with the measuring skate. Whether the measuring skate will actually bring gold to the Netherlands at the next Olympic Games, Van der Eb finds difficult to say. In any case, the results of the project seem hopeful: because of the competition, most discoveries remain secret.  

The entire article can be read on the site of Het Parool (in Dutch).

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