Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2021) 20, 250 - 257   DOI:

Research article
Physiological Responses and Predictors of Performance in a Simulated Competitive Ski Mountaineering Race
Michael Lasshofer1, John Seifert1,2, Anna-Maria Wörndle1, Thomas Stöggl1,3, 
Author Information
1 Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Salzburg, Hallein/Rif, Austria
2 Department of Health & Human Development, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA
3 Red Bull Athlete Performance Center, Salzburg, Austria

Thomas Stöggl
✉ Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Schlossallee 49, 5400 Hallein/Rif, Austria
Publish Date
Received: 30-12-2020
Accepted: 22-02-2021
Published (online): 08-03-2021
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Competitive ski mountaineering (SKIMO) has achieved great popularity within the past years. However, knowledge about the predictors of performance and physiological response to SKIMO racing is limited. Therefore, 21 male SKIMO athletes split into two performance groups (elite: VO2max 71.2 ± 6.8 ml· min-1· kg-1 vs. sub-elite: 62.5 ± 4.7 ml· min-1· kg-1) were tested and analysed during a vertical SKIMO race simulation (523 m elevation gain) and in a laboratory SKIMO specific ramp test. In both cases, oxygen consumption (VO2), heart rate (HR), blood lactate and cycle characteristics were measured. During the race simulation, the elite athletes were approximately 5 min faster compared with the sub-elite (27:15 ± 1:16 min; 32:31 ± 2:13 min; p < 0.001). VO2 was higher for elite athletes during the race simulation (p = 0.046) and in the laboratory test at ventilatory threshold 2 (p = 0.005) and at maximum VO2 (p = 0.003). Laboratory maximum power output is displayed as treadmill speed and was higher for elite than sub-elite athletes (7.4 ± 0.3 km h-1; 6.6 ± 0.3 km h-1; p < 0.001). Lactate values were higher in the laboratory maximum ramp test than in the race simulation (p < 0.001). Pearson’s correlation coefficient between race time and performance parameters was highest for velocity and VO2 related parameters during the laboratory test (r > 0.6). Elite athletes showed their superiority in the race simulation as well as during the maximum ramp test. While HR analysis revealed a similar strain to both cohorts in both tests, the superiority can be explainable by higher VO2 and power output. To further push the performance of SKIMO athletes, the development of named factors like power output at maximum and ventilatory threshold 2 seems crucial.

Key words: Performance diagnosis, predictors of performance, oxygen uptake, competition simulation, winter sports physiology, ski mountaineering

           Key Points
  • VO2 measurements in the laboratory and the field confirm the high involvement of the aerobic system in SKIMO
  • Elite athletes showed their supremacy in the laboratory test and the simulated vertical race
  • Relative heart rate, relative VO2 and lactate values indicate the same emphasized strain for elite and sub-elite athletes during SKIMO vertical racing.
  • Peak speed, peak lactate and VO2max were the highest in lab predictors of outdoor SKIMO vertical race performance.
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