Energy systems functionality test rates: model characteristics for elite ski racers trained for XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing

PhD A.I. Golovachev1
PhD V.I. Kolykhmatov1
PhD S.V. Shirokova1
PhD N.B. Novikova2
1Federal Science Center for Physical Culture and Sports (FRS VNIIIFK), Moscow
2St. Petersburg Scientific Research Institute of Physical Culture, St. Petersburg

Keywords: women cross-country skiing elite, model test rates, oxidation and lactacid energy systems, functionality test rates, anaerobic threshold, test rate variations, physical fitness, maximal oxygen consumption.

Background. The growing competitiveness of modern sports, inflows of junior athletes in the sport elites, rotations in the coaching teams and ambitious competitive goals set by the Target Comprehensive Preparation Program for the 2022 (XXIV) Winter Olympic Games in Beijing (China) – urge the national sport community to improve the Olympic sports training systems including those for the national women’s cross country skiing team. The efforts to secure new quality of the training system design and management may be successful only when supported by the physical fitness management scenarios based on the model test rates [2, 6] to track progress in the trainings versus the target physical fitness benchmarks and make timely corrections to the individual training systems when necessary.

The main energy supply systems functionality tests and test data variability profiling methods and approaches applicable in elite precompetitive training systems, as reported by the modern research literature, appear difficult for systematizing [1, 3-5]. Studies in the women’s cross country skiing sport [7] are relatively seldom and inconsistent in the applied test sets and test criteria and, hence, give little chance for the physical fitness ratings and analyses being put on a systemic basis to facilitate the precompetitive trainings; and for this reason may unlikely be much helpful for the national cross-country skiing research community.

Objective of the study was to develop a set of model physical fitness test rates/ benchmarks classified by the key energy supply systems for application by the women’s cross-country skiing elite in trainings for the 2022 (XXIV) Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

Methods and structure of the study. The women’s cross-country skiing elite physical fitness profiling study was run in 2015-2018 under the Theoretical and Practical Provisioning Program at the Cyclic Olympic Sports Research Laboratory of the Federal Science Center for Physical Culture and Sports (FRS VNIIIFK), Moscow. We sampled for study the 19-27 year old women cross-country skiers (n=19) specialized in a few Olympic events, qualified CMS to WCMS and having 6-13-year sport records. We used a standard test program [1-4] including (1) Treadmill Test I with stepped workload till failure to rate the oxidizing system resource and functionality; and (2) Maximal-intensity 60-second cycling Test II (MIT-60) to rate the lactacid energy system functionality; with Test I run at Quinton (US-made) treadmill ratable in the moderate to sub-maximal range; and Test II at Monarch cycle ergometer (Sweden-made) designed for maximal power to rate the lactacid energy system functioning by quantitative (mechanical power and lactate concentration) test criteria. The energy system functionality was rated by the exhale tests using MetaLyzer–II (Cortex, Germany) gas analyzer system; and the capillary blood lactate was tested by a standard photo-colorimetric method.

Results and discussion. Our multiannual studies of the physical fitness test and control systems applied by the national sport elite specialized in the cross country races and sprints made it possible to offer a set of model test rates (benchmarks) to be achieved for success in the top-ranking seasonal events. Based on requirements of the relevant methodological approaches to model test, we selected 18 statistically valuable criteria to rate physical fitness, power and energy system cost efficiency by the oxidation and lactacid energy system test rates to obtain the benchmarks for the Olympian-2022 performance model. For this purpose we classified the test criteria into the following groups:

Group I: physical efficiency and oxidative energy system functioning rating criteria, including: Tr. – test run time; Vmax test run speed till failure; maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen consumption / kg - maximal oxygen demand, absolute and relative rates indicative of the oxidizing system performance; KIO2 - oxygen consumption rate; and HRmax - maximal heart rate;

Group II: lactacid energy system activity criterion, i.e. blood lactate (La) with maximums and stepped variations in the test; and

Group III: intersystem interactions rate, i.e. the oxidation / lactacid energy system ratio to find the anaerobic threshold and analyze the energy system cost efficiency.

Statistical analysis with a polynomial approximation of the energy system functionality test data of the sample in the 2015-2018 Olympic cycle made it possible to develop the guiding model test rates for the Olympic cycle to attain the physical fitness peak by the 2022 Winter Olympic Games: see Table 1 hereunder.

The training system management by the model test rates was intended to secure the optimal functionality and physical fitness for the athletes in the precompetitive period as follows: treadmill Test I ‘to failure’: run time of at least 16.45±0.45 min, run speed of at least 4.79±0.09 m/s achieved by the high power of the oxidizing system with the absolute maximal oxygen consumption of 3.828±0.038 l/min, relative maximal oxygen consumption of 65.23±0.73 ml/ min/ kg; and lactacid energy system (maximum lactate concentration) of 12.2±0.5 mM/ l.

Table 1. Model functionality test rates by the energy systems in the precompetitive cycle of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games: Olympian-2022 performance model

Test rates

Model rate for 2021-22

Treadmill test run time, min


Treadmill test run speed, m/s


Maximal oxygen consumption, l/ min


Maximal oxygen consumption /kg, ml/ min/ kg


Maximal lung ventilation (MLV), l/ min


KIО2, %


HRmax, bpm


Oxygen demand per heart beat, ml/ beat


Final lactate content in Test I, mM/ l


Speed at anaerobic threshold, m/ s


Oxygen demand at anaerobic threshold, ml/ min/ kg


HR at anaerobic threshold, bpm


Absolute cycling power in Test II (MIT-60), kgm/ min


Relative cycling power in Test II (MIT-60), kgm/ min/ kg


Workload rate in Test II, кР


Cadence Test II, cycle/ min


Lactate rate in Test II (МIT-60), мМ/ l

15,35±0,4 л

HR in Test II (МIT-60), bpm


Maximal oxygen demand will be formed based on the balanced external respiration power (MVL: 136.9±2.7 l/min) and high oxygen absorption (KIO2: 3.85±0.06%). The cardiovascular system function intensity (rated by the maximal heart rate) should secure the ultimate competitive muscular work at 174.0-202.0 beats/ min (from AP to the peak rate).

The AP should be attained at the run speed of 4.17±0.04 m/ s (at least 85-87% of Vmax); and the oxygen demand at the AP should come close to 55.65±0.54 ml/ min/ kg (85-90% of maximal oxygen consumption) for the muscular functionality in intensity zones II and III.

The absolute work power in Test II (MIT-60) as a measure of lactacid energy system fitness (i.e. the muscular work power range for intensity zones III and IV) should come to 2345.2±14.0 kgm/ min, and the relative rate to 40.42±0.12 kgm/ min/ kg.

The lactacid energy system function intensity should come to at least 15.4±0.4 mM/ L; with the lactate rate difference in Tests II and I, viewed as a backup resource for muscular work intensity growth, should come to at least 3.0-3.5 mM/ L. And the cardiovascular system function intensity should reach 188.2±0.6 beats/ min, with the HRmax difference in Tests II and I being under 6.5-8.0%.

Conclusion. Our multiannual studies made it possible to find the model test rates for the physical fitness, oxidation / lactacid energy systems power and energy efficiency test rates to secure a top fitness of the women cross country skiing elite for the 2022 (XXIV) Winter Olympic Games. Methodologically, the study was geared to offer an Olympian-2022 performance model with 18 test criteria classified by the energy systems functionality rating groups. Practical tests and analyses of the women cross country skiing elite performance in the 2015-2018 Olympic cycle made it possible to find the key success factors including: high functionality of the oxidizing system rated by the absolute and relative maximal oxygen demand values; high performance rates at the AP indicative of the perfect intersystem interactions; and high lactacid energy system functionality rate; with all these benchmarks being indicative of a high precompetitive fitness for success.


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The article presents, for the first time, the results of development of model characteristics of energy supply systems in highly-qualified racing skiers, the achievement of which underlies the successful performance at the XXIV Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (China) in 2022. Considering the requirements for the formation of model characteristics of female athletes trained for the Olympic Games, we selected 18 indicators to assess the level of physical working capacity, state of the power and economization capabilities of the main energy supply systems (oxidation and lactacid) and acting as a system-forming factor that integrates the functional systems of the body. The study involved 19 female racing skiers from different age groups (from 19 to 27 years) and with different sports experience (from 6 to 13 years). They were all qualified from CMS to WCMS and specialized in various types of competitive activity. The study of the functional capabilities of the female athletes was carried out during the 2015-2018 Olympic cycle under the program of methodological support during the stage-by-stage comprehensive examinations conducted in the laboratory of Olympic cyclic sports of the Federal State Budgetary Institution Federal Science Center for Physical Culture and Sport. The methodological feature of the study was the creation of a structural-functional model (model of Olympic athlete-2022), which includes the indicators that reflect the individual characteristics of development of energy supply systems ensuring effective selection, identification of the degree of readiness to perform specific muscular activity, as well as correction of the training process.