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.
Harri Luchsinger, Jan Kocbach, Gertjan Ettema and Øyvind Sandbakk
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.
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  W, 298  W, and 350  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  W, 206  W, and 233  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.
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.