Sport Sciences for Health

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 97–104 | Cite as

Physiological factors associated with ski-mountaineering vertical race performance

  • Alessandro FornasieroEmail author
  • Aldo Savoldelli
  • Gennaro Boccia
  • Andrea Zignoli
  • Lorenzo Bortolan
  • Federico Schena
  • Barbara Pellegrini
Original Article



Despite their increasing popularity, there are no studies analyzing the performance of ski-mountaineering vertical races. For the first time, this study examined a vertical competition, exploring the association between laboratory measures and uphill performance by means of multiple regression analysis.


Nine high-level ski-mountaineers (age 20.6 ± 3.0 years, VO2max 69.3 ± 7.4 mL/min/kg) performed an anthropometric assessment and a laboratory ski-mountaineering graded exercise test (GXT) to evaluate VO2max, gross efficiency (GE), ventilatory thresholds (VTs), blood lactate thresholds (LTs), as well as the power output associated with these indices. Race characteristics in terms of vertical gain, length, and mean gradient were, respectively, as follows: 460 m, 3 km, 15.3% for junior men and senior women; 600 m, 3.5 km, 17.1% for senior men.


Average race time was 23:35 ± 01:25 (mm:ss). Mean power output exerted during the race was 3.40 ± 0.34 W/kg, equal to 79.0 ± 3.5% of maximal and 95.3 ± 5.2% of VT2 calculated in the GXT. The most performance-correlated variable was the VO2 at VT2 (mL/min/kg) (r = 0.91, p < 0.001), which accounted for the 80% of performance variation (adjusted R 2 = 0.80, p = 0.001). When GE was included in the analysis, the regression model was significantly improved (adjusted R 2 = 0.90, p = 0.031).


The study showed that the mean power output sustained during a vertical race is close to the power associated with VT2 and it is highly correlated with athletes’ physiological characteristics. Particularly, two variables, VO2 at VT2 and GE, measurable with a specific GXT, accounted for the 90% of performance variation in a ski-mountaineering vertical race. Accordingly, training programs should focus on the maximal development of VT2 as well as on increasing GE by technical improvement.


Ventilatory thresholds Power output Ski-mountaineering Vertical Performance 



Gross efficiency


Graded exercise test


International Ski Mountaineering Federation


Blood lactate thresholds


Maximal power output


Respiratory exchange ratio


Maximal oxygen consumption


First ventilatory threshold


Second ventilatory threshold


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures were approved by the Local Research Ethics Committee and were carried out in line with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia S.r.l. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CeRiSM, Sport Mountain and Health Research CentreUniversity of VeronaRoveretoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Neurosciences, Biomedicine and Movement SciencesUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly
  3. 3.NeuroMuscular Function Research Group, Department of Medical Sciences, School of Exercise and Sport SciencesUniversity of TurinTurinItaly

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