European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 113, Issue 8, pp 1979–1987 | Cite as

The physiological and biomechanical contributions of poling to roller ski skating

  • Øyvind Sandbakk
  • Gertjan Ettema
  • Hans-Christer Holmberg
Original Article


Poling is considered to make a significant contribution to cross-country skiing with the skating technique. To better understand this contribution, the current investigation compared roller ski skating on a treadmill with the so-called G3 skating technique with (G3-P) and without poling (G3-NP). Seven male elite skiers performed 5-min submaximal tests at 8, 12, and 15 km h−1, as well as an incremental test to exhaustion with both techniques on a 5 % incline. Ventilatory variables were assessed by open-circuit indirect calorimetry and three-dimensional kinematics analyzed using the Qualisys Pro Reflex system. G3-P was associated with approximately 15 % higher peak velocity and 10 % higher peak oxygen uptake than G3-NP in the incremental test (both P < 0.01). All ventilatory variables, as well as heart rate and blood lactate concentration were lower with G3-P as compared to G3-NP at 12 and 15 km h−1 (all P < 0.01). Gross efficiency (i.e., the ratio of work rate to metabolic rate) at 12 km h−1 was higher in G3-P (14.9 %) than G3-NP (13.5 %) (P < 0.01). Moreover, with G3-P cycle time and length were both 30 % longer, with correspondingly reduced cycle rates (all P < 0.01). In addition, the ski gliding and swing phases were longer and the angle between the skis smaller with G3-P (both P < 0.01), whereas the push-off time was independent of technique and velocity. Taken together, these results indicate that poling makes an important contribution to propulsion and velocity during ski skating, specifically by enhancing peak oxygen uptake, skiing efficiency and associated biomechanical variables.


Blood lactate concentration Center of mass movement Cross-country skiing Cycle length Cycle rate Oxygen uptake Ski angle Work economy 



This study was supported financially by the Mid-Norway Department of the Norwegian Olympic Committee. The authors would like to sincerely thank the subjects and their coaches sincerely for their valuable cooperation and participation in this study.


  1. Allinger TL, Van den Bogert AJ (1997) Skating technique for the straights, based on the optimization of a simulation model. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29:279–286PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson E, Supej M, Sandbakk Ø, Sperlich B, Stöggl T, Holmberg H-C (2010) Analysis of sprint cross-country skiing using a differential global navigation satellite system. Eur J Appl Physiol 110:585–595PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bassett DR, Howley ET (2000) Limiting factors for maximum oxygen uptake and determinants of endurance performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 32:70–84PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bilodeau B, Boulay MR, Roy B (1992) Propulsive and gliding phases in four cross-country skiing techniques. Med Sci Sports Exerc 24:917–925PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Borg G (1970) Perceived exertion as an indicator of somatic stress. Scand J Rehabil Med 2:92–98PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Boulay MR, Serresse O, Almeras N, Tremblay A (1994) Energy expenditure measurement in male cross-country skiers: comparison of two field methods. Med Sci Sports Exerc 26:248–253PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dempster WT (1955) Space requirements of the seated operator : geometrical, kinematic, and mechanical aspects of the body, with special reference to the limbs. WADC Technical Report pp 55–159Google Scholar
  8. Dumin JV, Womersley J (1973) Total body fat, calculated from body density, and its relationship to skinfold thickness in 571 people aged 12–72 years. Proc Nutr Soc 32:45AGoogle Scholar
  9. FIS (2009) International Ski Federation world cup results.
  10. Foss O, Hallen J (2005) Validity and stability of a computerized metabolic system with mixing chamber. Int J Sports Med 26:569–575PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hoffman MD, Kassay KM, Zeni AI, Clifford PS (1996) Does the amount of exercising muscle alter the aerobic demand of dynamic exercise? Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 74:541–547PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Holmberg HC, Lindinger S, Stöggl T, Eitzlmair E, Müller E (2005) Biomechanical analysis of double poling in elite cross-country skiers. Med Sci Sports Exerc 37:807–818PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Holmberg HC, Rosdahl H, Svedenhag J (2007) Lung function, arterial saturation, and oxygen uptake in elite cross country skiers: influence of exercise mode. Scand J Med Sci Sports 17:437–444PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Medbø JI, Mamen A, Holt Olsen O, Evertsen F (2000) Examination of four different instruments for measuring blood lactate concentration. Scand J Clin Lab Invest 60:367–380PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Millet GY, Hoffman MD, Candau RB, Clifford PS (1998) Poling forces during roller skiing: effects of technique and speed. Med Sci Sports Exerc 30:1645–1653PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nilsson J, Tveit P, Eikrehagen O (2004) Effects of speed on temporal patterns in classical style and freestyle cross-country skiing. Sports Biomech 3:85–107PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Pellegrini B, Bortolan L, Schena F (2011) Poling force analysis in diagonal stride at different grades in cross country skiers. Scand J Med Sci Sports 21:589–597PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Peronnet F, Massicotte D (1991) Table of nonprotein respiratory quotient: an update. Can J Sport Sci 16:23–29PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Sandbakk Ø, Holmberg HC, Leirdal S, Ettema G (2010) Metabolic rate and gross efficiency at high work rates in world class and national level sprint skiers. Eur J Appl Physiol 109:473–481PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sandbakk Ø, Ettema G, Holmberg HC (2011) The influence of incline and speed on work rate, gross efficiency and kinematics of roller ski skating. Eur J Appl Physiol 112:2829–2838PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Smith GA (1992) Biomechanical analysis of cross-country skiing techniques. Med Sci Sports Exerc 24:1015–1022PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Øyvind Sandbakk
    • 1
  • Gertjan Ettema
    • 1
  • Hans-Christer Holmberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human Movement ScienceNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of Health Sciences, Swedish Winter Sports Research CentreMid Sweden UniversityÖstersundSweden

Personalised recommendations