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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010 Dec;50(4):400-6.

Energy cost and efficiency of ski mountaineering. A laboratory study.

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Department of Physics, University of TrentoPovo, Trento, Italy.



The purpose of this study is to estimate the energy cost of ski mountaineering at different speeds under laboratory conditions.


By using roller skis on a motorized treadmill we have estimated the energy cost and biomechanics parameters of ski mountaineering as a function of climbing speed at the gradient of 21%.


The metabolic energy spent for unit mass and distance, C, shows a broad minimum of about 10.6±0.2 J kg-1m-1 at roughly 3.5 km h-1. In addition we find a size-dependent effect: tall subjects spend less metabolic energy for unit mass and distance than small subjects at the same speed.


The value of C measured in laboratory agrees with that obtained in the field at the preferred speed. This shows that skiers self select a speed that minimizes their metabolic cost. The dependence of C on the subject's size is explained by a simple model of the skier's dynamics. In addition we have calculated the ratio between mechanical work and metabolic energy, which may give some hints on the efficiency as a function of the speed. It turns out that efficiency increases with the speed up to a maximum located at around 4.5 km/h.

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