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The Steadier - the Better the Course Time - an Analysis From Patrouille Des Glaciers

Authors: Benedikt Gasser, Switzerland

It is generally known that in endurance sports the steadier the pace the better the performance. This is a consequence of biological restrictions from aerobe metabolism. Most knowledge from this is from running and cycling. However, analyses from ski-mountaineering are missing yielding to the aim of the study to analyze steadiness during the largest ski-mountaineering race in the West-Alps Patrouille des Glaciers (PdG) from Zermatt to Arolla and Verbier.
Material and Methods
A total of 207 Patrols (three alpinists) from race one from Zermatt-Arolla-Verbier, 344 patrols from race two from Zermatt-Arolla-Verbier as well as 374 patrols from race one of the short distance from Arolla-Verbier and 375 from race two Arolla-Verbier with an average age in female of 39.1 +_ 10.2 years and male 41.4 +_ 10.9 years were analyzed concerning steadiness of absolving PdG original course from Zermatt to Arolla and Verbier (53 km horizontal distance / 3994 meter ascent / 4090 meter descent) or the short course from Arolla to Verbier (26 km horizontal distance / 1914 meter ascent / 2374 meter descent). In order to compare the different parts of the race the concept of performance km was applied which states that 100 meter ascent, 200 meter descent and 1 km of horizontal distance are a performance correlate.
For both races fastest parts were during descents with a high share of downhill skiing. Furthermore, a close association between steadiness of absolving PdG and course time for the original race from Zermatt to Arolla to Verbier (R2 = 0.76) as well as for the short race from Arolla to Verbier (R2 = 0.699) were detected.
Results imply that lowest course times are achieved when absolving the course as steady as possible. Therefore, it is especially recommended not to start too fast in order to keep a steady pace during the whole race.

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