How Do World-Class Nordic Combined Athletes Differ From Specialized Cross-Country Skiers and Ski Jumpers in Sport-Specific Capacity and Training Characteristics?

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

To compare sport-specific laboratory capacities and the annual training of world-class Nordic combined (NC) athletes with specialized ski jumpers (SJ) and cross-country (XC) skiers.

Methods:

Five world-class athletes from each sports discipline were compared. Ski jump imitations were performed on a 3-dimensional force plate in NC athletes and SJ, whereas XC skiing characteristics were obtained from submaximal and maximal roller ski skating on a treadmill in NC athletes and XC skiers. In addition, anthropometrics and annual training characteristics were determined.

Results:

NC athletes demonstrated 9% higher body mass and showed 17% lower vertical speed in the ski jump imitation than SJ (all P < .05). NC athletes had 12% lower body mass and showed 10% lower peak treadmill speed and 12% lower body-mass-normalized peak oxygen uptake than XC skiers (all P < .05). NC athletes performed half the number of ski-jumping-specific sessions and outdoor ski jumps compared with SJ. NC athletes performed 31% less endurance training, mainly caused by lower amounts of low- and moderate-intensity training in the classical technique, whereas high-intensity strength and speed training and endurance training in the skating technique did not differ substantially from XC skiers.

Conclusions:

To simultaneously optimize endurance, explosive, and technical capacities in 2 different disciplines, world-class NC athletes train approximately two-thirds of the XC skier’s endurance training volume and perform one-half of the ski-jump-specific training compared with SJ. Still, the various laboratory capacities differed only 10–17% compared with SJ and XC skiers.

The authors are with the Centre for Elite Sports Research, Dept of Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. Moen is also with the Dept of Education, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Address author correspondence to Øyvind Sandbakk at oyvind.sandbakk@ntnu.no.