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Clap skate

Clap skate

Clap skates (also called clapskates, slap skates, slapskates, from Dutch klapschaats) are a type of ice skate used in speed skating. Unlike in traditional skates where the blade is rigidly fixed to the boot, clap skates have the blade attached to the boot by a hinge at the front. This allows the blade to remain in contact with the ice longer, as the ankle can now be extended toward the end of the stroke, as well as for more natural movement, thereby distributing the energy of the leg more effectively and efficiently.

Clap skates were developed at the Faculty of Human Movement Sciences of the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, led by Gerrit Jan van Ingen Schenau, although the idea of a clap skate is much older; designs dating from around 1900 are known.

The clap skate was used first in the 1984/1985 skating season. It was, however, not until the late 1990s that the idea was taken seriously. In the 1996/1997 season, the Dutch women's team started using the skates with great success. The rest of the skating world soon followed suit, causing a torrent of world records to be broken in the following seasons, including the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Nowadays, all top level long track speed skaters (and many amateur enthusiasts) use clap skates.

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