Purpose: Alpine ski performance relates closely to both anaerobic and aerobic capacities. During their competitive season, skiers greatly reduce endurance and weight training, and on-snow training becomes predominant. To typify this shift, we compared exhaustive ramp cycling and squat (SJ) and countermovement jumping (CMJ) performance in elite males before and after their competitive season.
Results: In postseason compared with preseason: 1) maximal oxygen uptake (V˙O2max) normalized to bodyweight was higher (55.2 ± 5.2 vs 52.7 ± 3.6 mL·kg−1·min−1, P < 0.01), but corresponding work rate (W) was unchanged; 2) at ventilatory thresholds (VT), absolute and relative work rates were similar but heart rates were lower; 3) V˙O2/W slope was greater (9.59 ± 0.6 vs 9.19 ± 0.4 mL O2·min−1·W−1, P = 0.02), with similar flattening (P < 0.01) above VT1 at both time points; and 4) jump height was greater in SJ (47.4 ± 4.4 vs 44.7 ± 4.3 cm, P < 0.01) and CMJ (52.7 ± 4.6 vs 50.4 ± 5.0 cm, P < 0.01).
Discussion: We believe that aerobic capacity and leg power were constrained in preseason and that improvements primarily reflected an in-season recovery from a fatigued state, which was caused by incongruous preseason training. Residual adaptations to high-altitude exposure in preseason could have also affected the results. Nonetheless, modern alpine skiing seemingly provides an ample cardiovascular training stimulus for skiers to maintain their aerobic capacities during the racing season.
Conclusions: We conclude that aerobic fitness and leg explosiveness can be maintained in-season but may be compromised by heavy or excessive preseason training. In addition, ramp test V˙O2/W slope analysis could be useful for monitoring both positive and negative responses to training.