On-ice testing of the Nitinol blades by the University of Quebec in Montreal and Sports Performances Technologies, Whittom and Associates, has shown the Nitinol [hockey] skate blades to exhibit a 2% – 5% speed gain over traditional steel skate blades (summary below). This is achieved through Nitinol’s lower coefficient of friction (less drag through the ice) and sharp edge.
This equates to a 0.4 meter (1.3 feet) to 1 meter (3.28 feet) advantage over a 20 meter (65.6 feet) span (approximately blue line to blue line).
As well, while skating with Nitinol blades skaters could achieve a greater number of strides 134 ± 14 (Nitinol) vs. 121 ± 27 (Regular) strides on the 3 laps test).
American College of Sports Medicine Journal
Ice Hockey Players Skating Speed Improved By A Novel Material Skate Blade.
Author Block Francois Whittom1, Olivier Desmeules-Roy1, Fanny Bouchard1, Alain Steve Comtois2. 1Whittom & Associés Sports-Performance-Technologies, Quebec, QC, Canada. 2Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada. (Sponsor: Jean P. Boucher, FACSM)
This study was to evaluate a new material (titanium alloy) for ice skating blades (NitinolTM) on the performance of elite level hockey players. The claims of this new material are that the blade is 14% lighter than the regular steel blade, lower coefficient of friction, durability, non corrosiveness and flexibility.
Tests for this pilot study were conducted on 4 ice hockey players. The level of skill for recruitment was set at the Canadian junior and college/university level. The following physiological parameters were recorded on all 4 players: oxygen consumption (VO2) with the use of a portable metabolic cart (K4b2, Cosmed, Italy ) and heart rate (HR) with a heart rate monitor belt (T31 Polar belt, Polar , Finland ).
Skating speed and exact distance was determined by measuring displacements/movements on the ice sheet with a stopwatch and video recordings. A total of 8 tests were administered to measure aptitudes of speed, endurance and agility over two sessions with 48 hours of rest in between. The tests comprised short and medium duration skating time trials at maximum skating speeds. A double blind randomisation was performed for the skate blades, which had same characteristics. A descriptive analysis was performed contrasting Nitinol blades to regular blades. Results are presented as mean ± S.D. Because of the small (n=4) no mean comparisons were performed to detect statistical significances, since some dependant variables did not share equal variances. When variances were uniform (Levene’s test) a paired Student’s t test was performed.
Nitinol blade offers a significant advantage for speed and quickness reaching a p< 0.05. Skaters using the Nitinol blade obtained faster time trials during the short and medium skating time trials when compared to the regular blade. As well, while skating with Nitinol blades (lighter weight and lower coefficient of friction) skaters could achieve a greater number of strides (134 ± 14 (Nitinol) vs. 121 ± 27 (Regular) strides on the 3 laps test), which with the flexibility of the material perhaps was responsible for the faster time trials. These differences amount to more than a 3 m and 0.5 m distance advantage over one lap or over 20 m (avg distance for a hockey rink neutral zone), respectively.
Nitinol blades showed an advantage of 2-5% in terms of skating speed.
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