Cross-country ski technique is undergoing rapid evolution. Alternate stride skating was the dominant technique during the 1985–86 racing season (double poling is synchronized with the “strong” side skate; no poling occurs with the “weak” side skate). High-speed films were made of elite male racers at the Holmenkollen World Cup races, Oslo, Norway (March 1986), skating up a 7° hill. Digitized data were filtered and processed to determine three-dimensional coordinates throughout a complete skating cycle. Ten skiers were analyzed, representing a range of performances. Over the 10-km race length, cycle rates for all skiers were similar; however, cycle lengths were significantly related to cycle velocity. The correlation between cycle velocity and length was r = 0.85. Ski angles were found to be asymmetrical. Weak-side ski angles were negatively related to cycle velocity; strong-side ski angles were similar for all skiers. Center of mass (CM) position throughout the cycle exhibited characteristic differences between faster and slower skiers. CM velocity vector direction was related to cycle velocity. Thus, faster skiers tended to maintain CM motion more nearly aligned with the forward direction.
Gerald A. Smith, Jill McNitt-Gray, and Richard C. Nelson are with the Biomechanics Laboratory at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.