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The asymptotic velocity distribution of electrons ionized in half-cycle-pulse excitation of high Rydberg states (n 34), placed in a static electric field, is studied using electron velocity-map imaging. At weak half-cycle pulse strengths, the electrons escape over the saddle point in the potential. For strong half-cycle pulses, the electrons are emitted in the direction of the field kick. The much slower and less intense half cycle of opposite polarity, which necessarily follows the maindoi:10.1103/physrevlett.89.273003 pmid:12513203 fatcat:p4zvld45dbaw3g4z24j55jjcnu