Oxygen uptake at different intensities and sub-techniques predicts sprint performance in elite male cross-country skiers

Magnus Carlsson, Tomas Carlsson, Magnus Knutsson, Christer Malm, Michail Tonkonogi
European Journal of Applied Physiology 2014, 114 (12): 2587-95

PURPOSE: To investigate the relationship between sprint-prologue performance (using the classical technique) and the oxygen uptake at the lactate threshold (VO₂obla), maximal oxygen uptake (VO₂max), and mean oxygen uptake during double poling (VO₂dp).

METHODS: Eight elite male cross-country skiers [age 24.8 ± 4.8 years, (mean ± SD)] completed two treadmill roller-skiing tests using the diagonal-stride technique and a 60 s double-poling test on a ski-ergometer to determine their VO₂obla, VO₂max, and VO₂dp. Performance data were generated from a 1.25 km sprint prologue. Power-function modelling was used to predict the skiers' race speeds based on the oxygen-uptake variables and body mass.

RESULTS: There were correlations between the race speed and the absolute expression of the VO₂obla (r = 0.79, P = 0.021), VO₂max (r = 0.86, P = 0.0069), and VO₂dp (r = 0.94, P = 0.00062). The following power-function models were established for race-speed prediction: 1.09 · VO₂obla(0.21), 1.05 · VO₂max(0.21), and 1.19 · VO₂dp(0.20); these models explained 60% (P = 0.024), 73% (P = 0.0073), and 87% (P = 0.00073), respectively, of the variance in the race speed. However, body mass did not contribute to any of the models (P = 0.97, 0.88, and 0.21, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Oxygen uptake at different intensities and sub-techniques is an indicator of elite male sprint-prologue performance. The absolute expression of the investigated oxygen-uptake variables should be used when evaluating elite male sprint-prologue performances; if skiers oxygen uptake differs by 1%, their performances will likely differ by 0.2% in favour of the skier with higher oxygen uptake.

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