Journal article

A Reappraisal of Success Factors for Olympic Cross-Country Skiing.


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Publication Details

Author list: Holmberg, Hans-Christer

Publication year: 2014

Start page: 117

End page: 121

Number of pages: 5

ISSN: 1555-0265


View additional information: View in Web of Science


Cross-country skiing has been an Olympic event since the first Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924. Due to more effective training and tremendous improvements in equipment and track preparation, the speed of Olympic cross-country ski races has increased more than that of any other Olympic endurance sport. Moreover, pursuit, mass-start and sprint races have been introduced. Indeed, ten of the twelve current Olympic competitions in cross-country skiing involve mass-starts, in which tactics play a major role and the outcome is often decided in the final sprint. Accordingly, reappraisal of the success factors for performance in this context is required. The very high aerobic capacity (VO2max) of many of todays world-class skiers is similar that of their predecessors. At the same time, the new events provide more opportunities to profit from anaerobic capacity, upper-body power, high-speed techniques and ""tactical flexibility"". The wide range of speeds and slopes involved in cross-country skiing require skiers to continuously alternate between and adapt different sub-techniques during a race. This technical complexity places a premium on efficiency. The relative amounts of endurance training performed at different levels of intensity have remained essentially constant during the past four decades. However, in preparation for the Sochi Olympics in 2014 cross-country skiers are performing more endurance training on roller skis on competition-specific terrain, placing greater focus on upper-body power and more systematically perform strength training and skiing at high speeds than previously.


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