Everyone knows that cross-country skiing is probably the hardest and in many ways the most challenging endurance sport in the world. It goes without saying that running, cycling, triathlon and such are almost equally demanding, but what really makes our beloved Nordic skiing so tough is the fact that you use your whole body for reaching your maximum performance.
And historically speaking, cross-country skiers have reached the highest VO2-Max levels of all athletes. The highest ever recorded VO2 max is 96 ml/kg/min, attributed to Bjørn Dæhlie, and 77 ml/kg/min in women. However, some sources claim that Espen Harald Bjerke was able to get the same recorded number as the legend Dæhli, and a 18-year-old cyclist from Norway Oskar Svendsen went even higher in 2012 (97,5 ml/kg/min).
In case the term VO2 max is not familiar to some of our readers, let’s explain this measurement of establishing aerobic endurance. It is measured in milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight (ml/kg/min). It is based on the premise that the more oxygen an athlete consumes during high-level exercise, the more the body will generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy in cells. ATP is often referred to as the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy,
VO2 max should not be confused with the lactate threshold (LT) testing, which refers to the point during high-intensity exercise where lactate builds up in the muscles faster than it can be removed.
Naturally, the faster you ski, the higher your heart rate is and then your body generates more ATP energy. In today’s technologically savvy world, everything can be measured and analyzed, and most athletes use the means of technology to enhance and control their training and racing. Our sponsor Polar has equipped many Visma Ski Classics pro skiers with heart rate monitors and special watches, and one of them is the last weekend’s winner Øystein “Pølsa” Pettersen.
By looking at the data collected from Sunday’s individual race, we can see that his maximum heart rate was 180 bpm and the average 141 bpm. The entire workout including the race lasted about 2 hours and 15 minutes, of which the first hour was warm-up with some intensive sprints. Once the race started, his heart rate stayed quite high up without any major drops to low figures as there were no real downhill sections on the course. He reached the highest heart rate digits on the second and final climb. His fastest speed going downhill was almost 55 km/hour, and he burned 2617 calories during the entire workout.
”I measure the heart rate on all my trainings and races,” Øystein says. “The Prologue on Sunday was a very good day for me. This year, my maximum heart rate during my workouts has been 186, and I now reached 180. I am good in flat terrain and high speed, so it was a great feeling this weekend.”
You can check out Øystein’s performance by clicking the Polar link below and see it for yourself: