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Downhill turn techniques and associated physical characteristics in cross-country skiers

Authors

  • S. Bucher Sandbakk,

    1. Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre, Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
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  • M. Supej,

    1. Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre, Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
    2. Department of Biomechanics, Faculty of Sport, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
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  • Ø. Sandbakk,

    1. Department of Human Movement Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
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  • H.-C. Holmberg

    Corresponding author
    1. Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre, Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden
    2. Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
    • Corresponding author: Hans-Christer Holmberg, Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre, Mid Sweden University, 83125 Östersund, Sweden. Tel: +46 70 4058960, Fax: +46 63 165626, E-mail: hc.holmberg@miun.se

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Abstract

Three dominant techniques are used for downhill turning in cross-country skiing. In this study, kinematic, kinetic, and temporal characteristics of these techniques are described and related to skier strength and power. Twelve elite female cross-country skiers performed six consecutive turns of standardized geometry while being monitored by a Global Navigation Satellite System. Overall time was used as an indicator of performance. Skiing and turning parameters were determined from skier trajectories; the proportional use of each technique was determined from video analysis. Leg strength and power were determined by isometric squats and countermovement jumps on a force plate. Snow plowing, parallel skidding, and step turning were utilized for all turns. Faster skiers employed less snow plowing and more step turning, more rapid deceleration and earlier initiation of step turning at higher speed (r = 0.80–0.93; all P < 0.01). Better performance was significantly correlated to higher mean speed and shorter trajectory (r = 0.99/0.65; both P < 0.05) and to countermovement jump characteristics of peak force, time to peak force, and rate of force development (r = −0.71/0.78/−0.83; all P < 0.05). In conclusion, faster skiers used step turning to a greater extent and exhibited higher maximal leg power, which enabled them to combine high speeds with shorter trajectories during turns.

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