Purpose: Double poling (DP) as a main technique in cross-country skiing has developed substantially over the last 15 yr. The purpose of the present study was to analyze the question, "How do modern elite skiers control DP speed?"
Methods: Twelve male elite cross-country skiers roller skied using DP at 9, 15, 21, and 27 km[middot]h−1 and maximum velocity (Vmax). Cycle characteristics, pole and plantar forces, and elbow, hip, and knee joint angles were analyzed.
Result: Both poling frequency and cycle length increased up to 27 km[middot]h−1 (P < 0.05), with a further increase in poling frequency at Vmax (P < 0.05). Peak pole force, rate of force development, and rearfoot plantar force increased with submaximal velocities (Vsm), whereas poling time and time-to-peak pole force gradually shortened (P < 0.05). Changes in elbow joint kinematics during the poling phase were characterized by a decreased angle minimum and an increased flexion and extension ranges of motion as well as angular velocities across Vsm (P < 0.05), with no further changes at Vmax. Hip and knee joint kinematics adapted across Vsm by 1) decreasing angles at pole plant and angle minima during the poling phase, 2) increasing the ranges of motion and angular velocities during the flexion phases occurring around pole plant, and 3) increasing extension ranges of motion and angular velocities during the recovery phase (all P values <0.05), with no further changes at Vmax.
Conclusions: Elite skiers control DP speed by increasing both poling frequency and cycle length; the latter is achieved by increased pole force despite reduced poling time. Adaptation to higher speeds was assisted by an increased range of motion, smaller angle minima, and higher angular velocities in the elbow, the hip, and the knee joints.