Cross-country (XC) skiing is one of the most demanding of endurance sports, involving protracted competitions on varying terrain employing a variety of skiing techniques that require upper- and/or lower-body work to different extents. Through more effective training and extensive improvements in equipment and track preparation, the speed of cross-country ski races has increased more than that of any other winter Olympic sport, and, in addition, new types of racing events have been introduced. To a certain extent this has altered the optimal physiological capacity required to win, and the training routines of successful skiers have evolved accordingly. The long-standing tradition of researchers working closely with XC-ski coaches and athletes to monitor progress, improve training, and refine skiing techniques has provided unique physiological insights revealing how these athletes are approaching the upper limits of human endurance. This review summarizes current scientific knowledge concerning the demands involved in elite XC skiing, as well as the physiological capacity and training routines of the best athletes.
Øyvind Sandbakk and Hans-Christer Holmberg
Øystein N. Wiggen, Cecilie T. Heidelberg, Silje H. Waagaard, Hilde Færevik and Øyvind Sandbakk
To investigate differences in double-poling (DP) endurance performance, economy, and peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2peak) at low (–15°C) and moderate (6°C) ambient temperatures (T A) in cross-country skiers wearing standard racing suits.
Thirteen well-trained male cross-country skiers performed a standardized warm-up followed by a 5-min submaximal test (Sub1), a 20-min self-paced performance test, a 2nd 5-min submaximal test (Sub2), and an incremental test to exhaustion while DP on an ergometer at either low or moderate T A, randomized on 2 different days. Skin and rectal temperatures, as well as power output and respiratory variables, were measured continuously during all tests.
Skin and rectal temperatures were more reduced at low T A than moderate TA (both P < .05). There was a 5% (P < .05) lower average power output during the 20-min performance test at low T A than at moderate T A, which primarily occurred in the first 8 min of the test (P < .05). Although DP economy decreased from Sub1 to Sub2 for both T As (both P < .01), a 3.7% (P < .01) larger decrease in DP economy from Sub1 to Sub2 emerged for the low T A. Across the sample, V̇O2peak was independent of T A.
These results demonstrate a lower body temperature and reduced performance for cross-country skiers when DP at low than at moderate TA while wearing standard cross-country-skiing racing suits. Lower DP performance at the low T A was mainly due to lower power production during the first part of the test and coincided with reduced DP economy.
Espen Tønnessen, Vegard Rasdal, Ida S. Svendsen, Thomas A. Haugen, Erlend Hem and Øyvind Sandbakk
Performing at an elite level in Nordic combined (NC) requires both the explosiveness required for ski jumping performance and the endurance capacity required for cross-country skiing.
To describe the characteristics of world-class NC athletes’ training and determine how endurance and non–endurance (ie, strength, power, and ski jumping) training is periodized.
Annual training characteristics and the periodization of endurance and non–endurance training were determined by analyzing the training diaries of 6 world-class NC athletes.
Of 846 ± 72 annual training hours, 540 ± 37 h were endurance training, with 88.6% being low-, 5.9% moderate-, and 5.5% high-intensity training. While training frequency remained relatively constant, the total training volume was reduced from the general preparatory to the competition phase, primarily due to less low- and moderate-intensity training (P < .05). A total of 236 ± 55 h/y were spent as non–endurance training, including 211 ± 44 h of power and ski-jump-specific training (908 ± 165 ski jumps and ski-jump imitations). The proportion of non–endurance training increased significantly toward the competition phase (P < .05).
World-class NC athletes reduce the volume of low- and moderate-intensity endurance training toward the competition phase, followed by an increase in the relative contribution of power and ski-jump training. These data provide novel insight on how successful athletes execute their training and may facilitate more-precise coaching of future athletes in this sport. In addition, this information is of high relevance for the training organization of other sports that require optimization of 2 fundamentally different physical capacities.
Thomas Losnegard, Håvard Myklebust, Øyvind Skattebo, Hans Kristian Stadheim, Øyvind Sandbakk and Jostein Hallén
In the double-poling (DP) cross-country-skiing technique, propulsive forces are transferred solely through the poles. The aim of the current study was to investigate how pole length influences DP performance, O2 cost, and kinematics during treadmill roller skiing.
Nine male competitive cross-country skiers (24 ± 3 y, 180 ± 5 cm, 72 ± 5 kg, VO2max running 76 ± 6 mL · kg–1 · min–1) completed 2 identical test protocols using self-selected (84% ± 1% of body height) and long poles (self-selected + 7.5 cm; 88% ± 1% of body height) in a counterbalanced fashion. Each test protocol included a 5-min warm-up (2.5 m/s; 2.5°) and three 5-min submaximal sessions (3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 m/s; 2.5°) for assessment of O2 cost, followed by a selfpaced 1000-m time trial (~3 min, >5.0 m/s; 2.5°). Temporal patterns and kinematics were assessed using accelerometers and 2D video.
Long poles reduced 1000-m time (mean ± 90% confidence interval; –1.0% ± 0.7%, P = .054) and submaximal O2 cost (–2.7% ± 1.0%, P = .002) compared with self-selected poles. The center-of-mass (CoM) vertical range of displacement tended to be smaller for long than for self-selected poles (23.3 ± 3.0 vs 24.3 ± 3.0 cm, P = .07). Cycle and reposition time did not differ between pole lengths at any speeds tested, whereas poling time tended to be shorter for self-selected than for long poles at the lower speeds (≤3.5 m/s, P ≤ .10) but not at the higher speeds (≥4.0 m/s, P ≥ .23).
DP 1000-m time, submaximal O2 cost, and CoM vertical range of displacement were reduced in competitive cross-country skiers using poles 7.5 cm longer than self-selected ones.
recommended to solely focus on high-intensity intervals, whereas low-intensity training was considered a waste of time. This was followed by a marked performance decline in many endurance sports after the 2002 Olympics, particularly for Norwegian cross-country skiing. It was not until Stephen Seiler and his
Erik Trøen, Bjarne Rud, Øyvind Karlsson, Camilla Høivik Carlsen, Matthias Gilgien, Gøran Paulsen, Ola Kristoffer Tosterud and Thomas Losnegard
Over the past few decades, cross-country skiing has evolved, with the introduction of new competition forms such as sprint and mass start and changes in the preparation of skis, course profiles, skiers’ equipment, and techniques. 1 , 2 Consequently, with higher average speeds in today
Øyvind Sandbakk, Guro Strøm Solli and Hans-Christer Holmberg
distance also appears in some upper-body-dominant modes such as canoeing and double-poling cross-country skiing, whereas the sex differences in kayaking are relatively constant at 12% to 13%. In the sprint events of these 2 sports (ie, 200-m kayaking and canoeing), the differences are 19% and 23
Amelia Carr, Kerry McGawley, Andrew Govus, Erik P. Andersson, Oliver M. Shannon, Stig Mattsson and Anna Melin
long-term energy deficiency was also investigated for the female participants. Methods Participants A total of 31 participants were recruited from the Swedish national junior and senior cross-country ski teams (Table 1 ). Participants were excluded if they had an injury or illness that prevented them
Thomas Haugen, Gøran Paulsen, Stephen Seiler and Øyvind Sandbakk
. Phys Sportsmed . 1979 ; 7 : 74 – 83 . PubMed ID: 29256655 doi:10.1080/00913847.1979.11948457 29256655 10.1080/00913847.1979.11948457 12. Bergh U . The influence of body mass in cross-country skiing . Med Sci Sports Exerc . 1987 ; 19 : 324 – 331 . PubMed ID: 3657480. doi:10
Adam Beard, John Ashby, Ryan Chambers, Franck Brocherie and Grégoire P. Millet
international period. In addition, utilizing an upper-body dominant exercise regimen such as the one employed by Faiss et al, 8 in cross-country skiing could be also beneficial in some sports—such as the rugby-related (ie, union, league, Australian rules football), field and ice hockey, lacrosse and combat