Purpose: In cross-country (XC) skiing, the V1 and V2 alternate skate techniques are asymmetric, and skiers can choose either the right or left side for pole support. The overall purpose of this study was to investigate V1 side preference in elite XC skiers, notably by documenting V1 skate side preference, dominant and nondominant V1peak speeds, left- to right-side differences (ΔL-R) in laboratory-based measurements, and relationships between side preference data.
Methods: Sixteen male elite XC skiers completed one incremental speed test using V1 on their dominant side and another incremental speed test using V1 on their nondominant side while roller-skiing on a treadmill. During these tests, V1peak speed, pole forces, and plantar forces were measured. A whole-body dual-energy x-ray absortiometry (DXA) scan measured anthropometric parameters and questionnaires established side preference for V2 alternate, overall laterality in XC skiing, handedness, footedness, and injury prevalence.
Results: Left-to-right V1 side preference was equally distributed among skiers. V1peak speed was approximately 4.5% greater on the dominant versus nondominant sides. V1peak ΔL-R were positively related to ΔL-R in V1-dominant peak pole forces only. Questionnaire data indicated that more skiers preferred V2 alternate right, with moderate correlations between preferred V1 and V2 alternate sides. The expression of a dominant side in V1 and V2 alternate increased as skiing speed increased from moderate to 15-km endurance-race to sprint-race speeds. However, no relationships were established between V1 or V2 side preference and handedness, footedness, or number of one-sided injuries.
Conclusions: ΔL-R in measurements provide limited explanations for V1 side preferences in elite XC skiers. In fact, no systematic relations exist between V1 side preferences and anthropometric, biomechanical, or questionnaire data.