To compare the speed and heart-rate profiles during international skating and classical competitions in male and female world-class cross-country skiers.
Four male and 5 female skiers performed individual time trials of 15 km (men) and 10 km (women) in the skating and classical techniques on 2 consecutive days. Races were performed on the same 5-km course. The course was mapped with GPS and a barometer to provide a valid course and elevation profile. Time, speed, and heart rate were determined for uphill, flat, and downhill terrains throughout the entire competition by wearing a GPS and a heart-rate monitor.
Times in uphill, flat, and downhill terrain were ~55%, 15–20%, and 25–30%, respectively, of the total race time for both techniques and genders. The average speed differences between skating and classical skiing were 9% and 11% for men and women, respectively, and these values were 12% and 15% for uphill, 8% and 13% for flat (all P < .05), and 2% and 1% for downhill terrain. The average speeds for men were 9% and 11% faster than for women in skating and classical, respectively, with corresponding numbers of 11% and 14% for uphill, 6% and 11% for flat, and 4% and 5% for downhill terrain (all P < .05). Heart-rate profiles were relatively independent of technique and gender.
The greatest performance differences between the skating and classical techniques and between the 2 genders were found on uphill terrain. Therefore, these speed differences could not be explained by variations in exercise intensity.
Bolger, Hegge, and Sandbakk are with the Center for Elite Sports Research, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. Kocbach is with the Christian Michelsen Research, Bergen, Norway.