Text by Teemu Virtanen
Statistics by Polar
The 70 km Ylläs-Levi course is one of the most challenging ones in the Visma Ski Classics pro tour as it is quite long and has three impressive climbs and really fast downhill sections. Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng, won the women’s race again in a similar manner as last year by breaking away from the pack and finishing ahead of her rivals.
It is interesting to compare her performance to one of the female recreational skiers and see the differences. Astrid’s total time was 3:30:44 while the recreational skier spent more than six hours on the course (6:02:56). Naturally, due to the length of her performance the latter burned more calories during the race than Astrid, 3265 kcal vs. 2887 kcal. Interestingly, their average heart rates were very similar as Astrid’s heart beat 155 times per minute on average while the recreational figure was 157.
The Polar statistics show an interesting fact; our recreational skier’s minimum heart rate was much lower than our pro skier’s as she was able to go down to 82 beats per minute and Astrid to 114. There were long downhill sections on the course, and most likely Astrid was able to keep up a faster pace even when going down and thus keep her performance level higher up. Astrid’s maximum heart rate was 180 while our recreational skier needed to push all the way to her limit with her 193 beats per minute. It is good to keep in mind that heart rates are always individual and thus shouldn’t be compared.
As expected, our recreational skier spent a way more time skiing with higher heart rates than Astrid who mostly raced well below her anaerobic threshold. Our recreational skier, on the other hand, had to go beyond her comfort zone for about 42 % of the time (level 5 – anaerobic threshold) while Astrid spent only 7 % on that highest level. Interestingly, they both spent about the same time, 25-26%, on the second hardest level (4) and quite the same on the third level as well (16% for our recreational skier and 20% for Astrid).
But the big difference comes when we compare their times spent on the second lowest level (2). For Astrid, she spent 42 % of her racing time skiing on that aerobic level while our recreational skier was able to go that low only for 13% of her skiing time. The conclusion is quite simple; our recreational skier had to keep up a higher relative intensity and heart rate throughout the race compared to Astrid, which is usually the case when juxtaposing pro skiers and amateurs. Pro skiers can recover much quicker and they can keep up a good tempo with lower heart rate zones – they have raised their aerobic and anaerobic thresholds (you can read about the thresholds in our previous article at https://vismaskiclassics.com/news/articles/aerobic-anaerobic-thresholds-your-keys-to-success-in-skiing/).
To conclude this analytic article, we can take a quick look at the maximum speeds of both skiers. Astrid was able to reach a whopping 56.7 km/h while our recreational skier’s fastest speed going down was 46.1 km/h. Both figures are very impressive considering that the conditions were not the fastest on Saturday. It goes without saying that pro skiers usually have better glide and thus faster skis and they have practiced downhill skiing much more than recreational skiers.