Wearable, wireless near-infrared (NIR) spectrometers were used to compare changes in on-ice short-track skating race simulations over 1,500 m with a 3-min cycle ergometry test at constant power output (400 W). The subjects were six male elite short-track speed skaters. Both protocols elicited a rapid desaturation (TSI%) in the muscle during early stages (initial 20 s); however, asymmetry between right and left legs was seen in $Δ$TSI% for the skating protocol, but not for cycling. Individual differences between skaters were present in both protocols. Notably, one individual who showed a relatively small TSI% change (-10.7%, group mean =-26.1%) showed a similarly small change during the cycling protocol (-5.8%, group mean =-14.3%). We conclude that NIRS-detected leg asymmetry is due to the specific demands of short-track speed skating. However, heterogeneity between individuals is not specific to the mode of exercise. Whether this is a result of genuine differences in physiology or a reflection of differences in the optical properties of the leg remains to be determined. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.