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Alannah K.A. McKay, Trent Stellingwerff, Ella S. Smith, David T. Martin, Iñigo Mujika, Vicky L. Goosey-Tolfrey, Jeremy Sheppard, and Louise M. Burke

Throughout the sport-science and sports-medicine literature, the term “elite” subjects might be one of the most overused and ill-defined terms. Currently, there is no common perspective or terminology to characterize the caliber and training status of an individual or cohort. This paper presents a 6-tiered Participant Classification Framework whereby all individuals across a spectrum of exercise backgrounds and athletic abilities can be classified. The Participant Classification Framework uses training volume and performance metrics to classify a participant to one of the following: Tier 0: Sedentary; Tier 1: Recreationally Active; Tier 2: Trained/Developmental; Tier 3: Highly Trained/National Level; Tier 4: Elite/International Level; or Tier 5: World Class. We suggest the Participant Classification Framework can be used to classify participants both prospectively (as part of study participant recruitment) and retrospectively (during systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses). Discussion around how the Participant Classification Framework can be tailored toward different sports, athletes, and/or events has occurred, and sport-specific examples provided. Additional nuances such as depth of sport participation, nationality differences, and gender parity within a sport are all discussed. Finally, chronological age with reference to the junior and masters athlete, as well as the Paralympic athlete, and their inclusion within the Participant Classification Framework has also been considered. It is our intention that this framework be widely implemented to systematically classify participants in research featuring exercise, sport, performance, health, and/or fitness outcomes going forward, providing the much-needed uniformity to classification practices.

Open access

Iñigo Mujika and Karim Chamari

Open access

Louis Passfield, Juan M. Murias, Massimo Sacchetti, and Andrea Nicolò

Open access

Shaun J. McLaren, Tzlil Shushan, Christoph Schneider, and Patrick Ward

Open access

Grégoire P. Millet, Eric Hermand, and Rémy Hurdiel

Open access

Chiara Gattoni and Samuele Maria Marcora

Open access

Renate M. Leithäuser and Ralph Beneke

Open access

Ove Sollie and Thomas Losnegard

Purpose: To compare sex differences in physiological determinants of skiing performance in elite adolescent, junior, and senior cross-country skiers matched for within-age-group performance level. Methods: Eight male and 12 female adolescent (15 [1] y), 8 male and 7 female junior (18 [1] y), and 7 male and 6 female senior (28 [5] y) skiers participated. Gross efficiency was calculated during submaximal uphill treadmill roller skiing (approximately 84% of peak oxygen uptake [V˙O2peak]) using the G2 ski-skating technique. Distance covered, V˙O2peak, and maximal accumulated oxygen deficit were established from a 3-minute time-trial. Fifteen-second maximal skiing power was calculated from an incremental treadmill speed test. Finally, upper- and lower-body maximal strength tests were conducted. Results: The 3-minute time-trial distance and maximal skiing power were, respectively, 23% and 15% (adolescent), 24% and 19% (junior), and 17% and 14% (senior) greater for men than women (all groups, P ≤ .01, effect size [ES] = 2.43–4.18; very large). V˙O2peak relative to body mass was 17% (adolescent, P = .002, ES = 1.66, large), 21% (junior, P < .01, ES = 2.60, very large), and 19% (senior, P < .01, ES = 2.35, very large) greater for men than women. The within-age-group sex differences in gross efficiency, relative accumulated oxygen deficit, and strength were not significant, with the exception of greater lower-body strength in male than female juniors (P = .01, ES = 1.26, large). Conclusion: The within-age-group sex difference in skiing performance is of similar magnitude for adolescent, junior, and senior skiers. This difference can likely be attributed to the large to very large sex difference in V˙O2peak within all age-groups.