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Not so fast on Gartner being not so fast: Larkin's All-Star Fastest Skater record intrigue

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Sanford Myers/Getty Images

A week ago, Dylan Larkin set the all-time record for the fastest lap at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition with a lap time of 13.172 seconds, beating the previous best from Mike Gartner. Gartner's 13.386 seconds stood for longer than Larkin has been alive before being beaten by the kid.

But lots of people weren't happy with the result because they said Dylan Larkin got a head start that Gartner didn't get and so Larkin's record was tainted. To shut the whiners up, I took a look at Larkin's standing-to-finish lap to get his true lap time. My rudimentary timing method had Larkin clocking in at about 12.9 seconds.

How did I get a time faster than the official time? Well it's likely because I started the clock at the very moment of impulse by Larkin, cutting off what's likely somewhere around 0.2 seconds or more from the kid's reaction time. I'm not a damn Mythbuster. I'm a guy who used gifcam to count frames in tenths of a second.

What kept me from doing a more-thorough look was a group of factors:

  1. I don't give that much of a shit about it
  2. I didn't have a very good copy of Gartner's lap that I could find anywhere to do a comparison.
  3. Seriously, it's not that important.

Well fortunately for the Gartner truthers out there, Mike DeKalb (@MikeDeKalb) was kind enough to do a great deal of the work for me in terms of getting the lap I needed to do my super-scientific analysis of dudes skating real fast. Using the video I went through the exact same process of creating a standing-to-finish lap to see which frame I landed on at the end. I think I did a way better job with this gif because you can see how it loops near-perfectly.

You can see it goes from Gartner standing just behind the red to finishing in the same spot. He's also already jumping to skate when everything starts, just like Larkin.

So let's go to the screenshot of the gifcam gif editor to find out which frame we ended on to get this lap. Remember from the last post that it calls the first frame "Frame 0", so you add one tenth of a second to the end. You ready?

12.4 seconds?! Well shit. Ok, here are my thoughts:

  • The green shit all over that screenshot is a feature of Gifcam where it automatically green-screens pixels from one frame to the next that it recognizes as being identical. It's a matter of how the program saves space so that every 12.4-second .gif isn't an enormous file.
  • The video was taken 20 years ago and uploaded. It doesn't appear to "run fast" or anything, but like I said, I'm not a Mythbuster.
  • I tried to get things as close to the same as possible and I think I did that. It appears Gartner's lap was faster.
  • Were the timing methods in 1996 so bad that they added almost a full second to Gartner's lap? Did he get an advantage from wider corners or nets being higher in the crease or something? I don't know. The official times are what they are and this is what it is.

My final thought is this: none of this matters because the NHL recognizes Larkin as the fastest to ever complete this lap in their history. The Mike Gartner truthers are older than the Larkin lovers by a full generation and therefore will all be dead long before the people who remember Larkin as the fastest skater ever pass away. While we all wait for that inevitability, the Larkin generation will be telling their small children of this year's lap, further cementing his place in history (at least until he bests his own record next year and the year after that, of course).

Larkin holds the record and none of your old-people-tinfoil-hat-wearing crying will change that. All hail Dylan Larkin, the NHL's king of speed.

[special thanks to Mike for his help with the Gartner lap. His YouTube channel is here, or you can visit Hockey Transplant to read his writing.]