The effect of aging on pacing strategies of cross-country skiers and the role of performance level



The participation of master cross-country (XC) skiers in training and competition has increased during the last decades; however, little is known yet about whether these athletes differ from their younger counterparts in aspects of performance such as pacing. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to examine the combined effect of age and performance (race time) on pacing in cross-country (XC) skiing. We analyzed all finishers (n = 79,722) in ‘Vasaloppet’ from 2012 to 2017, the largest cross-country skiing race in the world, classified according to their race time into 10 groups: 3-4 h, 4-5 h, ..., 12-13 h.


A trivial main effect of sex on total pace range was observed (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.002), where women (44.1 ± 10.2%) had larger total pace range than men (40.9 ± 11.8%). A large main effect of performance group on total pace range was shown (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.160), where the smallest total pace range was 21.8 ± 1.9% (3-4 h group) and the largest 50.1 ± 9.9% (10-11 h group). A trivial sex×performance group interaction on total pace range was found (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.001) with the largest sex difference in pacing shown in 9-10 h group. A trivial and small main effect of age was found in women (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.005) and men (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.011), respectively, where the masters had smaller total pace range than their younger counterparts. A trivial age group×performance group interaction on total pace range was observed in both women (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.008) and men (p < 0.001, η2 = 0.006) with smaller differences among age groups in the faster performance groups.


In summary, master XC skiers adopted a relatively even pacing independently from their race time and the differences in pacing from the younger XC skiers were more pronounced in the slower masters. These findings suggest that exercise attenuates the decline of performance in master XC skiers as shown by the similar pacing strategies between fast master XC skiers and their younger counterparts.


AgeEndurance exerciseGerontologySport performanceWinter sport

Autor / Fonte:Pantelis Theodoros Nikolaidis, Elias Villiger, Thomas Rosemann, Beat Knechtle European Review of Aging and Physical Activity 2018, 15: 4