Purpose: As cross-country sprint competitions rely on maximal-effort durations of ∼3 min, a significant anaerobic energy contribution is expected. Anaerobic energy production during supramaximal exercise has been estimated in different sports from the accumulated oxygen deficit (ΣO2 deficit) but, to date, not in cross-country skiing. Therefore, this study investigated the relative contribution of the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems to performance in ski skating sprint time trials using V1 and V2 techniques.
Methods: Twelve elite senior male cross-country skiers participated in the study (24 ± 3 yr, 183 ± 5 cm, 79 ± 7 kg, V˙O2max = 72 ± 3 mL·kg−1·min−1 or 5.7 ± 0.5 L·min−1). Three submaximal trials (4°–6°), one V˙O2max test (8°), and one performance test (7°, 600 m) were performed both in the V1 and in the V2 ski skating technique on a roller ski treadmill.
Results: ΣO2 deficit was ∼60 mL·kg−1 and contributed to ∼26% of the total energy release during the ∼170-s time trials. Low to moderate correlations (r = 0.09–0.51) were found between O2 cost of skiing, fractional utilization of V˙O2peak, fractional utilization, and 600-m time. However, a moderate to strong correlation was found between ΣO2 deficit and 600-m time in both the V1 (r = −0.75) and the V2 tests (r = −0.64) (both P < 0.05). No significant differences were found between techniques according to 600-m time or physiological responses.
Conclusions: The contribution from anaerobic energy systems was ∼26% and seemed independent of technique. In a group of elite skiers, the difference in roller ski treadmill sprint performance is more related to differences in anaerobic capacity than maximal aerobic power and O2 cost.