Are There Associations Between Submaximal and Maximal Aerobic Power and International Ski Federation World Cup Ranking in Elite Alpine Skiers?

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To analyze the predictive value of parameters of submaximal and maximal cardiopulmonary exercise performance on International Ski Federation (Fédération Internationale de Ski) World Cup ranking (FIS ranking) in elite Austrian Alpine skiers. Methods: Over 7 World Cup seasons (2012–2018), exercise data (maximal oxygen uptake and maximum power output, lactate threshold 2, and ventilatory threshold 2, based on stepwise cycle spiroergometry) were analyzed to determine whether there was a correlation between world FIS ranking and exercise capacity of male and female elite Alpine skiers. Results: The data of 39 male skiers (age: 27.67 [4.20] y, body mass index: 26.03 [1.25] kg/m2) and 36 female skiers (age: 25.49 [3.18] y, body mass index: 22.97 [1.71] kg/m2) were included in this study. The maximum oxygen uptake and maximum power output ranged from 4.37 to 4.42 W/kg and 53.41 to 54.85 mL/kg/min in men and from 4.17 to 4.30 W/kg and 45.96 to 49.16 mL/kg/min in women, respectively, over the 7 seasons; the yearly mean FIS ranking ranged from 17 to 24 in men and 9 to 18 in women. In a fixed-effects model used for the subsequent panel regression analysis, no statistically significant effect on FIS ranking was found for the exercise parameters of interest. Conclusions: Neither maximal aerobic tests nor maximum power output significantly predicted competitive performance, as indexed by the FIS ranking. This reinforces the assumption that no single parameter determines competition performance in this complex sport. Therefore, identifying the optimum amount of endurance training remains a major challenge for athletes and coaches, as does identifying and improving the factors that determine performance.

Schobersberger, Mairhofer, Haslinger, Koller, and Blank are with the Inst for Sports Medicine, Alpine Medicine and Health Tourism, Tirol Kliniken GmbH Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria, and the Private University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Innsbruck, Austria. Raschner is with the Dept of Sport Science, Olympiazentrum, University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria. Puntscher is with the Inst of Public Health, Medical Decision Making and Health Technology Assessment, Private University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall in Tirol, Austria.

Schobersberger (wolfgang.schobersberger@tirol-kliniken.at) is corresponding author.
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