To compare the speed and heart-rate profiles during international skating and classical competitions in male and female world-class cross-country skiers.
Four male and 5 female skiers performed individual time trials of 15 km (men) and 10 km (women) in the skating and classical techniques on 2 consecutive days. Races were performed on the same 5-km course. The course was mapped with GPS and a barometer to provide a valid course and elevation profile. Time, speed, and heart rate were determined for uphill, flat, and downhill terrains throughout the entire competition by wearing a GPS and a heart-rate monitor.
Times in uphill, flat, and downhill terrain were ~55%, 15–20%, and 25–30%, respectively, of the total race time for both techniques and genders. The average speed differences between skating and classical skiing were 9% and 11% for men and women, respectively, and these values were 12% and 15% for uphill, 8% and 13% for flat (all P < .05), and 2% and 1% for downhill terrain. The average speeds for men were 9% and 11% faster than for women in skating and classical, respectively, with corresponding numbers of 11% and 14% for uphill, 6% and 11% for flat, and 4% and 5% for downhill terrain (all P < .05). Heart-rate profiles were relatively independent of technique and gender.
The greatest performance differences between the skating and classical techniques and between the 2 genders were found on uphill terrain. Therefore, these speed differences could not be explained by variations in exercise intensity.