Int J Sports Med 2011; 32(11): 856-863
DOI: 10.1055/s-0031-1279721
Training & Testing

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Physiology of Ski Mountaineering Racing

S. Duc1 , J. Cassirame2 , F. Durand1
  • 1University of Perpignan – Departement de STAPS Font Romeu, Laboratory of Performance, Health & Altitude, Font Romeu, France
  • 2Laboratory of Sport Sciences, University of Franche-Comté, UFR STAPS Besançon, France
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision April 20, 2011

Publication Date:
19 October 2011 (online)


The aim of this study was to quantify and describe the exercise intensity of ski mountaineering racing, and to identify the best physiological predictors of ski mountaineering racing. Before participating in the race in which heart rate (HR) and speed were continuously recorded, 10 trained ski-mountaineers performed a field maximal test to determine the first ventilatory threshold (VT1) and the respiratory compensation threshold (RCT) in order to establish 3 exercise intensity zones (Z1: below VT1, Z2: between VT1 and RCT, and Z3: above RCT). Energy cost (EC) of each subject was estimated on the HR/V˙O 2 relationship obtained during the field maximal test. VT1 and RCT threshold were equal to 84.2±3.0 and 94.5±1.7% of HRmax. Race time was significantly correlated with V˙O 2max (r=−0.87), VT1 (r=−0.82) and RCT (r=−0.85) expressed for body mass unit. The mean race time and the mean HR were 101±11 min and 93.4±1.8% of HRmax. The % race time spent in Z1, Z2 and Z3, were 7.0±4.8, 51.3±4.7 and 42.0±6.5%, respectively. The mean value of EC during the two uphill of the race was 14.3±2.6−1.m−1. HR and speed decreased significantly during the second uphill whereas EC increased significantly by ∼15%. Data obtained in the present study represent the first qualitative description of physiology demand of ski mountaineering racing. The long period of time spent just below and above RCT suggest that ski-mountaineering can be viewed as one of the most strenuous endurance sports like cross-country skiing, running and off-road biking. In addition to high aerobic capacities, body mass seems to appear as a key factor given that performance in ski mountaineering is strongly correlated to relative common physiological variables. The changes of HR, speed and EC during the second uphill, which indicate the prevalence of fatigue, confirm the exhaustive character of ski mountaineering.



Sébastien Duc

University of Perpignan –

Departement de STAPS Font


Laboratory of Performance,

Health & Altitude


Font Romeu

66120 France

Phone: + 33/468/30 01 51

Fax: + 33/468/30 80 76