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REVIEW  EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY AND BIOMECHANICS 

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2019 July;59(7):1175-94

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.18.08977-6

Copyright © 2018 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Evolutions in the physiology of skiing, skating and running in the Olympics

Kjell HAUSKEN

Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway



Cross-country skiing, biathlon, Nordic combined, short track speed skating, and speed skating (12+11+3+8+14=48 events), i.e. five of the 15 disciplines in the 2018 Winter Olympics, require participants to reach the finish line in minimum time, while exerting mechanical propulsion power through flat terrain, uphill, and downhill. This article compares distances and times for these disciplines systematically with each other and with running, walking, and swimming in the Summer Olympics. Regarding physiological implications, the absence of distances below 6 km in biathlon, 5 km in Nordic combined, 1.2-1.5 km in cross-country skiing, and 0.5 km in speed skating means recruiting fewer competitors with sprint characteristics (type IIx fast isoforms muscles, etc.). The absence of distances above 10 km in speed skating and Nordic combined, and 20 km in biathlon, means recruiting fewer or other kinds of competitors with long distance characteristics. For example, high anaerobic threshold is important at greater distances, and high VO2max is important above intermediate distances. A new recruitment criterion for Olympic events is proposed, argued to recruit athletes fairly and be fair to spectators. The new criterion supplements current criteria such as popularity, relevance, and cooperation. The article recommends assessing 26 new events for future Winter Olympics within the five disciplines, equivalently for men and women. Formats are specified for the new events. Regarding equal distances for men and women, women use 8.7-13.6% more time than men in most events, except when upper-body power is important (above 13.6%) and in ultraendurance events (below 5.3%).


KEY WORDS: Physiology; Skiing; Running; Skating

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