The Differences in Pacing Among Age Groups of Amateur Cross-Country Skiers Depend on Performance

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Pantelis T. Nikolaidis, Thomas Rosemann, Beat Knechtle

Pacing strategies have mainly been investigated for runners, but little is known for cross-country skiers. The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of performance and age on pacing strategies in cross-country skiing. All finishers (women, n = 19,375; men, n = 86,190) in the ‘Engadin Ski Marathon’ (42 km) between 1998 and 2016 were analysed for the percentage change of speed at 10 km (Change A), 20 km (Change B) and 35 km (Change C). They were classified in performance groups according to quartiles of average race speed (Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4) and in 5-year age groups (<20, 20-24, 25-29… 85-89 years). Men were faster than women by +14.3% (15.2 ± 4.0 vs. 13.3 ± 3.3 km/h; p < 0.001, η2 = 0.215). A small impact of age group × performance group interaction on Change A was shown in women (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.026) and men (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.025), where Q1 augmented and Q4 attenuated the decrease in speed with aging. However, the impact of age group × performance group interaction on Change B and C was trivial (p = 0.002, η2 ≤ 0.010). Based on these findings, it was concluded that the differences in pacing among age groups depended on the performance level. Thus, the coaches and fitness trainers working with cross-country skiers should advise their athletes to consider both age and performance.
DOI: 10.2478/hukin-2018-005
Key words
age, endurance, master athlete, winter sport

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