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Glenn M. Street and Robert W. Gregory

While the scientific literature has confirmed the importance of high maximal aerobic power to successful cross-country skiing performance, the same cannot be said of skiing technique or gliding characteristics of skis. The purpose of this study was to determine whether glide speed was related to Olympic race performance. Male competitors in the 50-km freestyle event were videotaped during the 1992 Winter Olympic Games. Glide speeds of the entire field were measured through a 20-m flat section at the bottom of a 150-m, 12° downhill. A significant correlation (r = -.73) was found between finish time and glide speed, showing that the more successful competitors tended to have faster glide speeds through this section of the course. A predictive model of glide speed suggested that the faster glide speeds were due primarily to differences in friction. There was little evidence to suggest that differences in air drag, body mass, or initial speed accounted for the major differences in glide speeds.

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Gerald A. Smith, Jill McNitt-Gray and Richard C. Nelson

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.

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Franziska Onasch, Anthony Killick and Walter Herzog

Cross country ski racing is divided into classic and skating races, which both require different skills from athletes. One thing they have in common is the double poling action, occurring in combination with skating push-off or classic striding patterns, or in isolation, as the only propulsive

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Paavo V. Komi

To understand cross-country (X-C) siding it is important to record and identity forces of skis and poles separately and together. They both contribute to the forward progression, but their functional significance may be more complex than that of the ground reaction forces in running and walking. This report presents two methods to record forces on skis and poles during normal X-C skiing. A long force-platform system with four rows of 6-m long plates is placed under the snow track for recording of Fz and Fy forces of each ski and pole separately. This system is suitable especially for the study of diagonal technique under more strict experimental conditions. The second system consists of small lightweight Fz and Fy component force plates which are installed under the boot and binding. These plates can be easily changed from one ski to another, and telemetric recording allows free skiing over long distances and with different skiing techniques, including skating. The presentation emphasizes the integrated use of either system together with simultaneous cinematographic and electromyographic recordings.

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Javin C. Pierce, Malcolm H. Pope, Per Renstrom, Robert J. Johnson, Janet Dufek and Charles Dillman

A method for measuring the forces between the shoe and ski and upon the pole has been developed. Instrumented skis and poles are used with a portable data acquisition system that is carried by the skier in the field. Elite, top-level collegiate, and citizen skiers were used as subjects. Skiers performed the diagonal stride, and a marathon skate. Axial force levels at the forefoot were found to reach 164%, and 120% of body weight in the diagonal skate strides, respectively.

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Gerald A. Smith, Jon B. Fewster and Steven M. Braudt

Olympic skiers in the women's 30-km race were analyzed as they double poled on a moderate downhill slope. Movement patterns of 20 skiers were analyzed 10 from a top finishing group and 10 from slower finishers in the bottom third of the field. Skiers in the faster group not only were faster overall in the race but were faster as they double poled through the site (6.75 vs. 6.43 m/s). Cycle length was significantly correlated with cycle velocity (r = .81). Trunk flexion and shoulder extension during poling were similar between groups; however, considerable variability of shoulder positioning was noted for both groups of skiers. Distinct shoulder-elbow-pole positioning differences were noted among skiers. Disadvantageous positionin» of the shoulder at the beginning of poling was related to poorer pole inclination during elbow extension. While many skiers in both fast and slow groups double poled with good positioning, others would benefit from greater shoulder flexion to maximize double poling performance.

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Robert W. Norman and Paavo V. Komi

The purpose of this study was to determine whether world class skiers were alike in their mechanical power outputs (normalized for body mass and velocity and called mechanical cost, MTC) and body segment energy transfers when skiing in competition on level and uphill terrain using the diagonal technique. Eleven competitors were analyzed from film taken during a 15-km World Championship race on a level (1.6°) and uphill (9.0°) section of the course. Metabolic rates were estimated from assumptions concerning the efficiencies of positive and negative work and calculations, from the film, of the mechanical power produced by the skiers. The results showed that skiing on the slope was 2.2 times more demanding mechanically than skiing on a level track (MTC of 4.0 vs. 1.8 J • kg−1 • m−1, respectively). Skiers who had high MTC had low energy transfers (r = −0.9). Even in this presumably homogeneous group of elite skiers there were large individual differences in MTC and other mechanical variables, suggesting technique problems for some. Furthermore, on flat terrain the estimated metabolic rate was only about 76% of an MV02 of 80 ml • kg−1 • min−1. This suggests that speed, using the diagonal stride, may be limited by constraints on body segment utilization and not by the physiological energy delivery system of these highly trained athletes.

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Kevin Boldt, Anthony Killick and Walter Herzog

A 1:1 locomotion–respiration entrainment is observed in galloping quadrupeds, and is thought to improve running economy. However, this has not been tested directly in animals, as animals cannot voluntarily disrupt this entrainment. The purpose of this study was to evaluate metabolic economy in a human gait involving all four limbs, cross-country skiing, in natural entrainment and forced nonentrainment. Nine elite cross-country skiers roller skied at constant speed using the 2-skate technique. In the first and last conditions, athletes used the natural entrained breathing pattern: inhaling with arm recovery and exhaling with arm propulsion, and in the second condition, the athletes disentrained their breathing pattern. The rate of oxygen uptake (VO2) and metabolic rate (MR) were measured via expired gas analysis. Propulsive forces were measured with instrumented skis and poles. VO2 and MR increased by 4% and 5% respectively when skiers used the disentrained compared with the entrained breathing pattern. There were no differences in ski or pole forces or in timing of the gait cycle between conditions. We conclude that breathing entrainment reduces metabolic cost of cross-country skiing by approximately 4%. Further, this reduction is likely a result of the entrainment rather than alterations in gait mechanics.

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Håvard Myklebust, Øyvind Gløersen and Jostein Hallén

In regard to simplifying motion analysis and estimating center of mass (COM) in ski skating, this study addressed 3 main questions concerning the use of inertial measurement units (IMU): (1) How accurately can a single IMU estimate displacement of os sacrum (S1) on a person during ski skating? (2) Does incorporating gyroscope and accelerometer data increase accuracy and precision? (3) Moreover, how accurately does S1 determine COM displacement? Six world-class skiers roller-ski skated on a treadmill using 2 different subtechniques. An IMU including accelerometers alone (IMU-A) or in combination with gyroscopes (IMU-G) were mounted on the S1. A reflective marker at S1, and COM calculated from 3D full-body optical analysis, were used to provide reference values. IMU-A provided an accurate and precise estimate of vertical S1 displacement, but IMU-G was required to attain accuracy and precision of < 8 mm (root-mean-squared error and range of displacement deviation) in all directions and with both subtechniques. Further, arm and torso movements affected COM, but not the S1. Hence, S1 displacement was valid for estimating sideways COM displacement, but the systematic amplitude and timing difference between S1 and COM displacement in the anteroposterior and vertical directions inhibits exact calculation of energy fluctuations.

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Martin D. Hoffman, Philip S. Clifford, Božo Bota, Michael Mandli and Gregory M. Jones

A theoretical analysis was used to evaluate the effect of body mass on the mechanical power cost of cross-country skiing and roller skiing on flat terrain. The relationships between body mass and the power cost of overcoming friction were found to be different between cross-country skiing on snow and roller skiing. Nevertheless, it was predicted that the heavier skier should have a lower oxygen cost per unit of body mass for roller skiing, as is the case for snow skiing. To determine whether the theoretical analysis was supported by experimental data, oxygen consumption measurements were performed during roller skiing by six male cross-country ski racers who spanned a 17.3-kg range in body mass. The theoretical analysis was supported by the experimental findings of decreases in oxygen consumption for each kg increase in body mass of approximately 1.0% for the double pole technique, 1.8% for the kick double pole technique, and 0.6% for the VI skate technique.