The European Journal of Applied Physiology will soon publish an article that says the difference between Olympic silver and gold medals in Cross Country Skiing comes down to aerobic fitness.
The report from Øyvind Sandbakk of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Human Movement Science Programme, delves into the metabolic rates and efficiencies of world-class skiers and comes up with this key conclusion:
“Skiers need high aerobic and anaerobic energy delivery, muscular strength, efficient techniques and the ability to resist fatigue to reach and maintain top speeds races. Those physical attributes may not be so very different from other world-class athletes, except that cross-country skiers also need to have mastered a variety of techniques and tempos, depending upon the course terrain”.
The report also goes on to say what should lead to Gold at the Vancouver Games:
“Cross-country skiing also challenges skiers to master a great range of techniques for different speeds and slopes”. Sandbakk predicts this factor will be crucial in the technically difficult Vancouver competition tracks. In skating races, skiers have as many as seven different skiing techniques (much like the gears on a bicycle) at their disposal, and they constantly shift between these different techniques during a single race.
“Skiers even adapt these seven techniques depending on the speed and slope,” Sandbakk says. “The best skiers tend to ski with longer cycle lengths (the number of metres a skier moves his centre of mass per cycle), but with a similar cycle frequency,” he says. “But during the last part of the race, the cycle frequency seems to be higher in the better skiers.”
Read more about the report here.