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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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Feb. 4, 2010

What's the Fastest Start on Quads?

QDear Bill: I read your recent column about time-trial starts for inline skaters and watched the video. But I'm a quad speed skater, so I'm wondering if the start is the same for me? I've tried the "duck walk" technique — with and without toe stops. I am wondering which start gives quad skaters more speed? - Bobby T. from Chicago

Hi, Bobby T: The start I described, the Sarto start, was introduced in 1984 at the World Championships by Patrizio Sarto. Back then, inline skates had yet to arrive at Worlds, so Sarto — along with everybody else — raced on quads. Though quads were eventually replaced by inlines at Worlds, the Sato start stuck.

But keep in mind that the Sarto start only works in time trials that use automatic timing devices that trigger the clock when the skater's body crosses the line. In this kind of start, skaters launch when they are ready, so they have the luxury of performing the Sarto preparatory movements, allowing them to get full and maximum thrust.

In a race with a gun start, you never know how long you are going to be held at the line before the official pulls the trigger, so there is no way to know when to start the Sarto movements.

As for the use of toe stops when starting, they are allowed in U.S. indoor racing, but prohibited in international competition.

As far as what's faster, toe stop or no toe stop, I suspect the stopper start is quicker because it allows you to get down nice and low and explode out of the blocks.

But if you're unsure about what's best for you, it's easy to find out: time yourself. The stopwatch never lies.

Cheers, Bill

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