Teenage Chinese skaters ingeniously tricked competition to win gold and silver medals (video)

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/02/06/ice-skating-rabit-tactic.html


Clever, but not really in the spirit of the sport I’d say. I wouldn’t be surprised if a rule change eliminates the possibility of doing that.


I’m sure that I’m missing some of the subtlety, especially since I refuse to follow Twitter links, but she did in fact complete the same distance in less time than her competitors, right? Was the thought that if her competitors had only realized that she was so far ahead that they would have skated faster? Aren’t you supposed to skate as fast as you can either way? And why does one team owe another the right to not be confused?

(As I’m sure is painfully obvious, I don’t follow this or most other sports.)




What about sauntering around at half speed for half the race — is that sticking to the spirit of the sport?

I wonder why they don’t sprint more often? Seems like the pace was pretty slow for the first half of the race and the second half was about angling for position a la NASCAR. It took her about 2 laps to settle in behind the pack with the lead, so I would assume she could have just kept lapping them until fatigue set in. The initial sprint didn’t seem to negatively impact the leader (but who knows, maybe she was panting by then), which makes me wonder why an all-out sprint isn’t done here?

Ingenious! All you need to do to win any race is to go way faster than anyone else! Why doesn’t everybody do this?


That may look like sauntering around to you, because they don’t look like they’re working all that hard, but they’re still moving at a pretty good clip.

I doubt you can keep up a full sprint for very long. These races get very strategic. It’s all about conserving energy until just the right moment to go on an all out sprint to cross the finish line without running out of steam too early.

This tactic has a name, so it’s nothing new. It’s just not used a lot because more experienced racers would detect it and keep that lead racer from lapping everyone. This worked because these were teenagers who hadn’t seen it before. It’s not really trickery. It’s just hoping that the other racers lose track of how many laps are left for them, which, in this case, they did.


The rules are for sure much more detailed than just “whoever completes the same distance in the least time wins”. There all all manner of restrictions on equipment, clothing, conduct during the race, including physical contact, etc etc.

Many, if not all, sports have rules that prohibit certain things that otherwise would be allowed. See the infield fly rule in baseball for example.

As others have said though, more experienced skaters would know to watch out for this and would be on top of it. But arguably that is a distraction from the spirit of the sport and the rules.

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Yeah, but this seems completely different to me from cheating through physical contact, using prohibited equipment, etc. We’re basically just talking about choosing when to sprint ahead of everyone else. How the heck would you write a rule against that, and more importantly, why?

If the “spirit of the race” were to have everyone just go as fast as they can no matter what everyone else is doing then this would be fine. If the “spirit of the race” were to have team members cooperating with clever strategies to beat other teams then this is also fine.


It’s likely the kind of thing that could only work with younger less seasoned skaters. If adults tried this tactic it’s likely their competitors would be faster to figure out what the strategy is


Have you read the infield fly rule page on Wikipedia? If not, consider doing so, and then let me know if you still feel that way.

As another example, there are a number of rules in baseball that are designed to prevent (e.g.) the pitcher from deceiving base runners with various movements that you might otherwise think are extremely innocuous. Many of these fall under the notion of a balk, and it’s a pretty long list of things you aren’t allowed to do.

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If you’re suggesting that speed skating would benefit by becoming more like baseball then I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. In the strongest possible terms.


Well, apparently you don’t need to if you can pull of this ruse instead!


Baseball is a complex game involving a number of different skill sets, strategies and specialized roles. People have bent and exploited the rules of the game to their strategic advantage for generations, like giving a strong hitter a walk instead of risking the chance of a home run.

Racing is just about who can go a specified distance the fastest within certain basic limitations, like “don’t elbow your competitors.”

Frankly I don’t see the comparison.


How about TikTok?


Haha, no. Just pointing out that there are similar circumstances in other sports that led to rule changes.

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Have you ever read the rules for speed skating?

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They would figure-8 out?

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Not before today, but it looks pretty straightforward. Does this page leave anything important out?