This study aimed to 1) determine basic physiological demands during a simulated on-snow cross-country skiing (XCS) race when using grip-waxed skis (all classic XCS techniques [CLASSIC]), versus glide-waxed skis for exclusive double poling (DP) and 2) analyze in which track sections DP is different from CLASSIC under controlled gliding conditions in elite junior and senior skiers.
Nineteen male and female elite XC skiers performed 1) two randomized simulated XCS races over 5.3 km using DP or CLASSIC measuring section times, VO2, HR, blood lactate, and RPE; and 2) VO2peak tests using diagonal stride and DP on treadmill.
The total group showed no differences in performance or physiological responses between DP and CLASSIC. Elite male skiers achieved improved (23 s, P < 0.05), male juniors equal (P > 0.05) and females worse (43 s, P < 0.05) performance with DP versus CLASSIC. Flat and undulating terrain favored DP in men, whereas uphill favored CLASSIC in females (60 s). Uphill sections showed the greatest group differences. Greater RPE was found in the arms during DP, whereas RPE was greater in the legs using CLASSIC. VO2peak in DP was 95% of VO2max.
Male skiers demonstrated superior performance with exclusively using DP on a Fédération International de Ski regulation-compliant XCS track, whereas junior males achieved similar, and females' weaker performance using DP versus CLASSIC. The greatest potential in females is in uphill sections where they distinctly lose time. Exclusive DP might only be beneficial in athletes with high upper-body capacity, and double-pole-specific training and technique. To generalize the findings of the current study, further analysis of snow conditions and course topography is required.