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Håvard Lorås, Gertjan Ettema and Stig Leirdal

Changes in pedaling rate during cycling have been found to alter the pedal forces. Especially, the force effectiveness is reduced when pedaling rate is elevated. However, previous findings related to the muscular force component indicate strong preferences for certain force directions. Furthermore, inertial forces (due to limb inertia) generated at the pedal increase with elevated pedaling rate. It is not known how pedaling rate alters the inertia component and subsequently force effectiveness. With this in mind, we studied the effect of pedal rate on the direction of the muscle component, quantified with force effectiveness. Cycle kinetics were recorded for ten male competitive cyclists at five cadences (60–100 rpm) during unloaded cycling (to measure inertia) and at a submaximal load (~260 W). The force effectiveness decreased as a response to increased pedaling rate, but subtracting inertia eliminated this effect. This indicates consistent direction of the muscle component of the foot force.

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Roland van den Tillaar and Gertjan Ettema

The aim of this study was to compare the kinematics in throwing with a regular weighted handball with 20% lighter and heavier balls in female experienced handball players. In total, eight joint movements during the throw were analyzed. The analysis consisted of maximal angles, angles at ball release, and maximal angular velocities of the joint movements and their timings during the throw. Results on 24 experienced female team handball players (mean age 18.2 ± 2.1 years) showed that the difference in ball weight affected the maximal ball velocity. The difference in ball release velocity was probably a result of the significant differences in kinematics of the major contributors to overarm throwing: elbow extension and internal rotation of the shoulder. These were altered when changing the ball weight, which resulted in differences in ball release velocity.

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Roland van den Tillaar and Gertjan Ettema

The aim of this study was to investigate the contribution of upper extremity, trunk, and lower extremity movements in overarm throwing in team handball. In total, 11 joint movements during the throw were analyzed. The analysis consists of maximal angles, angles at ball release, and maximal angular velocities of the joint movements and their timing during the throw. Only the elbow angle (extension movement range) and the level of internal rotation velocity of the shoulder at ball release showed a significant relationship with the throwing performance. Also, a significant correlation was found for the timing of the maximal pelvis angle with ball velocity, indicating that better throwers started to rotate their pelvis forward earlier during the throw. No other significant correlations were found, indicating that the role of the trunk and lower limb are of minor importance for team handball players.

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Øyvind Sandbakk, Vegard Rasdal, Steinar Bråten, Frode Moen and Gertjan Ettema

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.

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Harri Luchsinger, Jan Kocbach, Gertjan Ettema and Øyvind Sandbakk

Biathlon is an Olympic sport combining cross-country skiing with the skating technique and rifle shooting. The sprint (7.5 km for women and 10 km for men) includes 2 shootings between 3 laps of skiing. The aims of the current study were to compare biathletes of different performance levels and sex on total race time and performance-determining factors of sprint races in the biathlon World Cup. The top-10 performers (G1-10) and results in ranks 21–30 (G21-30) in 47 sprint races during the 2011–12 to 2015–16 World Cup seasons were compared regarding total race time, course time, shooting time, range time, shooting performance (rate of hits), and penalty time. G21-30 men and women were on average 3–5% behind G1-10 in total race time, in which course time accounted for 59–65% of the overall performance difference, followed by 31–35% explained by penalty time. The remainder (ie, 4–6%) was explained by differences in shooting time and range time. The G1-10 women exhibited on average 12% slower speeds than the G1-10 men, and course time accounted for 93% of the total time difference of 13% between sexes. The average total hit rates were 92–93% among the G1-10 and 85% among the G21-30 in both sexes. In total, men shot on average 6 s faster than women. Course time is the most differentiating factor for overall biathlon performance between performance levels and sex in World Cup races. No sex difference in shooting performance was found.

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Gertjan Ettema, Tommy Gløsen and Roland van den Tillaar

Purpose:

The main purpose of this study was to compare the effect of a specific resistance training program (throwing movement with a pulley device) with the effect of regular training (throwing with regular balls) on overarm throwing velocity under various conditions.

Methods:

The training forms were matched for total training load, ie, impulse generated on the ball or pulley device. Both training groups (resistance training n = 7 and regular training n = 6) consisted of women team handball players, and trained 3 times per week for 8 weeks, according to an assigned training program alongside their normal handball training.

Results:

An increase in throwing velocity with normal balls after the training period was observed for both groups (P = .014), as well as throwing with heavier balls and throwing like actions in the pulley device. Although the regular training group seemed to improve more (6.1%) in throwing velocity with normal balls than the resistance training group (1.4%), this difference was not statistically significant.

Conclusions:

These findings indicate that resistance training does not surpass standard throwing training in improvement of overarm throwing velocity.

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Harri Luchsinger, Jan Kocbach, Gertjan Ettema and Øyvind Sandbakk

Biathlon is an Olympic winter sport that combines rifle shooting and cross-country skiing in various race formats. In the individual distance (15 km for women and 20 km for men), athletes compete over 5 laps of skiing with shooting between each 2 laps (ie, 4 shootings). The aim of the current study was to compare total race time differences, as well as the contribution from cross-country skiing and shooting variables to this difference, between biathletes of different performance levels and sexes in individual races in the Biathlon World Cup. Based on the publicly available race reports, the authors compared these factors between top-10 results (G1–10) and results within rank 21–30 (G21–30), as well as the corresponding sex differences. G21–30 among men/women were on average 4%/6% behind G1–10 in total race time, in which course time accounted for 42%/54% of the overall performance difference, followed by 53%/44% explained by penalty time caused by shooting performance (ie, the number of hits). The remaining 2–3% was explained by differences in shooting time and range time. Women G1–10 were on average 15% slower in skiing speed than men G1–10, which accounted for 92% of the overall performance difference between sexes. In total, among G1–10, men shot on average 15 s faster than women, and total penalty time was 18 s shorter. In conclusion, course time and penalty time contributed approximately equally to the performance-level differences, whereas course time explained above 90% of the sex differences in individual World Cup biathlon races.

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Pål Haugnes, Jan Kocbach, Harri Luchsinger, Gertjan Ettema and Øyvind Sandbakk

Purpose: To investigate fluctuations in speed, work rate, and heart rate (HR) when cross-country ski skating across varying terrains at different endurance-training intensities. Methods: Seven male junior Norwegian skiers performed maximal-speed (V max) tests in both flat and uphill terrains. Thereafter, 5-km sessions at low (LIT), moderate (MIT), and high intensity (HIT) were performed based on their own perception of intensity while monitored by a global navigation satellite system with integrated barometry and accompanying HR monitor. Results: Speed, HR, and rating of perceived exertion gradually increased from LIT to MIT and HIT, both for the total course and in flat and uphill terrains (all P < .05). Uphill work rates (214 [24] W, 298 [27] W, and 350 [54] W for LIT, MIT, and HIT, respectively) and the corresponding percentage of maximal HR (79.2% [6.1]%, 88.3% [2.4]%, and 91.0% [1.7]%) were higher than in flat terrain (159 [16] W, 206 [19] W, and 233 [72] W vs 72.3% [6.3]%, 83.2% [2.3]%, and 87.4% [2.0]% for LIT, MIT, and HIT, respectively) (all P < .01). In general, ∼13% point lower utilization of maximal work rate was reached in uphill than in flat terrain at all intensities (all P < .01). Conclusions: Cross-country ski training across varying terrains is clearly interval based in terms of speed, external work rate, and metabolic intensity for all endurance-training intensities. Although work rate and HR were highest in uphill terrain at all intensities, the utilization of maximal work rate was higher in flat terrain. This demonstrates the large potential for generating external work rate when uphill skiing and the corresponding downregulation of effort due to the metabolic limitations.

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Pål Haugnes, Per-Øyvind Torvik, Gertjan Ettema, Jan Kocbach and Øyvind Sandbakk

Purpose: To investigate the contribution from maximal speed (Vmax) and %Vmax to the finish sprint speed obtained in a cross-country sprint in the classical and skating style, as well as the coinciding changes in kinematic patterns and the effect of pacing strategy on the %Vmax. Methods: Twelve elite male cross-country skiers performed two 80-m Vmax tests on flat terrain using the classical double-poling and skating G3 techniques, followed by 4 simulated 1.4-km sprint time trials, performed with conservative (controlled start) and positive (hard start) pacing strategies in both styles with a randomized order. In all cases, these time trials were finalized by sprinting maximally over the last 80 m (the Vmax section). Results: Approximately 85% of Vmax was obtained in the finish sprint of the 1.4-km competitions, with Vmax and %Vmax contributing similarly (R 2 = 51–78%) to explain the overall variance in finish sprint speed in all 4 cases (P < .05). The changes in kinematic pattern from the Vmax to the finish sprint included 11–22% reduced cycle rate in both styles (P < .01), without any changes in cycle length. A 3.6% faster finish sprint speed, explained by higher cycle rate, was found by conservative pacing in classic style (P < .001), whereas no difference was seen in skating. Conclusions: Vmax ability and %Vmax contributed similarly to explain the finish sprint speed, both in the classic and skating styles, and independent of pacing strategy. Therefore, sprint cross-country skiers should concurrently develop both these capacities and employ technical strategies where a high cycle rate can be sustained when fatigue occurs.

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Christina Åsan Grasaas, Gertjan Ettema, Ann Magdalen Hegge, Knut Skovereng and Øyvind Sandbakk

This study investigated changes in technique and efficiency after high-intensity exercise to exhaustion in elite cross-country skiers. Twelve elite male skiers completed 4 min submaximal exercise before and after a high-intensity incremental test to exhaustion with the G3 skating technique on a 5% inclined roller-ski treadmill. Kinematics and kinetics were monitored by instrumented roller skis, work rate was calculated as power against roller friction and gravity, aerobic metabolic cost was determined from gas exchange, and blood lactate values indicated the anaerobic contribution. Gross efficiency was the work rate divided by aerobic metabolic rate. A recovery period of 10 min between the incremental test and the posttest was included to allow the metabolic values to return to baseline. Changes in neuromuscular fatigue in upper and lower limbs before and after the incremental test were indicated by peak power in concentric bench press and squat-jump height. From pretest to posttest, cycle length decreased and cycle rate increased by approximately 5% (P < 0.001), whereas the amount of ski forces did not change significantly. Oxygen uptake increased by 4%, and gross efficiency decreased from 15.5% ± 0.7% to 15.2% ± 0.5% from pretest to posttest (both P < .02). Correspondingly, blood lactate concentration increased from 2.4 ± 1.0 to 6.2 ± 2.5 mmol/L (P < .001). Bench-press and squat-jump performance remained unaltered. Elite cross-country skiers demonstrated a less efficient technique and shorter cycle length during submaximal roller-ski skating after high-intensity exercise. However, there were no changes in ski forces or peak power in the upper and lower limbs that could explain these differences.