Pacing strategies in cross-country skiing

In all endurance sports, the choice of pacing strategy is an important component for optimal performance where time gains can be achieved if the speed is adapted to the terrain, wind resistance and the individual's physiological and biomechanical abilities.


In general, optimized pacing in an endurance sport relates to an athlete performing optimally based on his or her physiological ability.

This project is based on several studies that include skiing on snow in the field and roller skiing in the test laboratory. In general, it comprises performance analyses in normal competition situations that are combined with more detailed assessments of the athlete’s physiological potential determined during laboratory tests using roller-skiing. 

Empirical data will be used to develop and evaluate a numerical model regarding how pacing can be optimized. The idea is to use the model as a tool for studying the effect of different strategies during ski races performed with an individual start and for optimizing tactical components during races where all skiers start together and race “head-to-head”. 

Practical use

The purpose of the project is to describe and evaluate how efficiently elite cross-country skiers adapt their speed during different competition disciplines in cross-country skiing, which is directly valuable to athletes’ performance development. 

Financing and collaboration

The project has been awarded a grant from the Rolf and Gunilla Enström Foundation and has partly been carried out in cooperation with the Swedish Ski Association.

Researchers in the project

The project is a collaboration between the Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre and the Sports Tech Research Center. The main researcher from the Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre is Erik Andersson and the main researcher from the Sports Tech Research Center is David Sundström. Other contributing researchers include Kerry McGawley, Peter Carlsson, Andrew Govus (La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia).

Published articles within this project:

Andersson, E.P., Govus, A.D., Shannon, O.M., and McGawley, K. (2019). Sex differences in performance and pacing strategies during sprint skiing. Front. Physiol. 10, 295.

Sundström, D., Carlsson, P., and Andersson, E. (2018). Comparison of power output estimates in treadmill roller-skiing. Proceedings of the 12th conference of the International Sports Engineering Association. 2(6), 312.