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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

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Jan. 20, 2010

What's the Starting Position for Sprinters?

QDear Bill: I would like to know how to properly start in a sprint time trial. How should I align my body, especially my hips. I have seen different types of starts. Could you please explain the differences. Thank you in advance. - Lauri from Estonia

Hi, Lauri from Estonia: In time trials, all the top skaters use the Sarto Start, which first appeared at the World Championships in 1984, back in the quad days.

The key to this starting technique is weight transfer.

Here's how it's done:

First, stand at the starting line with your hips facing forward. This is called the "open hip" position. When you are in it, neither hip should be in front of the other.

Now point your toes out so your feet are in the "Daffy Duck" position.

Next, step back with one foot, resting it on the ground behind you. Your back heel should be 12 to 18 inches directly behind your front heel.

Now coil your body back like a snake before it strikes, shifting your weight to your back skate.

Then, catapult yourself forward off your back leg.

Maintaining your duck-walk foot position — this gives you traction — and run on your skates for 10 to 15 meters. Then transition into your full-drive speed stroke.

You can see the great Italian sprinter Gregorio Duggento launching from the Sarto Start 28 seconds into this video:

Not everyone starts the same way. The Italian Erica Zanetti uses fast leg speed while Taiwan's Huang Yu-ting, the World Games winner, uses a long loping stride and doesn't really run off the line. But in general, all of the top sprinters start from the same position, full frontal.

Cheers, Bill

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