D. P. Heil, FACSM, Z. M. Ratzlaff

Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

Previous research has established that measures of upper body power (UBP) for cross-country (XC) skiers correlates highly with both classic and skate styles of XC skiing performance. What is not known, however, is how well a single preseason measure of UBP continues to correlate with XC skiing performance over the course of a season within a cohort of similarly trained skiers. We hypothesized that these correlations would remain stable if the skiers were competing within and peaking for the same races throughout the season. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the correlational relationships between pre-season measures of peak UBP and XC ski racing performance across a single competitive season in well-trained XC skiers. METHODS: Fifteen college-aged skiers (7 women; 5 men) each performed preseason (November 2019) standardized laboratory tests of 10-sec (UBP10) and 60-sec UBP (UBP60), each of which was expressed in absolute (W) and relative units (W/kg). Participant race results were then tracked throughout the 2019-2020 competitive season within five events (5k-10k for women; 10k-15k for men; 4 skate and 1 classic style race) that took place between 3 weeks (first race) and 16 weeks post-UBP testing (last race). After converting finishing times to an average race speed (RS, KPH), both absolute and relative UBP10 and UBP60 were correlated with RS using Pearson’s correlation (r) for each XC ski race (alpha=0.05). RESULTS: The correlations for absolute (0.84-0.98) and relative UBP10 (0.87-0.99), as well as absolute (0.79-0.97) and relative UBP60 (0.88-0.98) with RS were all moderate-to-high in magnitude and statistically significant (P≤0.009). Further, RS correlations with any UBP measure all increased (though not significantly) across the 4 skate races from the first (average r=0.87) to the last race (average r=0.99). CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to our hypothesis, the correlations of XC skating RS with any measure of UBP tended to increase as the season progressed between 3 and 16 weeks post-UBP testing. Future studies with more skiers and the inclusion of more classic races would help confirm these results. Regardless, preseason measures of UBP in well-trained XC skiers may be used by skiers and XC ski coaches as a moderate-to-strong indicator of XC skiing performance potential in the upcoming season.

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