The physiology of world-class sprint skiers


Corresponding author: Øyvind Sandbakk, Human Movement Science Programme, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway. Tel: +47 91 187 691, Fax: +47 73 591 770, E-mail:


The present study investigated the physiological characteristics of eight world-class (WC) and eight national-class (NC) Norwegian sprint cross country skiers. To measure the physiological response and treadmill performance, the skiers performed a submaximal test, a peak aerobic capacity (VO2peak) test, and a peak treadmill speed (Vpeak) test in the skating G3 technique. Moreover, the skiers were tested for G3 acceleration outdoors on asphalt and maximal strength in the lab. The standard of sprint skating performance level on snow was determined by International Ski Federation points, and the training distribution was quantified. WC skiers showed 8% higher VO2peak and twice as long a VO2 plateau time at the VO2peak test, and a higher gross efficiency at the submaximal test (all P<0.05). Furthermore, WC skiers showed 8% higher Vpeak (P<0.05), but did not differ from NC skiers in acceleration and maximal strength. WC skiers performed more low- and moderate-intensity endurance training and speed training (both P<0.05). The current results show that aerobic capacity, efficiency, and high speed capacity differentiate WC and NC sprint skiers and it is suggested that these variables determine sprint skiing performance.