Energy cost and efficiency of ski mountaineering. A laboratory study

P. Tosi, A. Leonardi, L. Zerbini, A. Rosponi, F. Schena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim. The purpose of this study is to estimate the energy cost of ski mountaineering at different speeds under laboratory conditions. Methods. By using roller skis on a motorized treadmill we have estimated the energy cost and biomechanics parameters of ski mountaineering as a function of climbing speed at the gradient of 21%. Results. The metabolic energy spent for unit mass and distance, C, shows a broad minimum of about 10.6±0.2 J kg -1m-1 at roughly 3.5 km h-1. In addition we find a size-dependent effect: tall subjects spend less metabolic energy for unit mass and distance than small subjects at the same speed. Conclusion. The value of C measured in laboratory agrees with that obtained in the field at the preferred speed. This shows that skiers self select a speed that minimizes their metabolic cost. The dependence of C on the subject's size is explained by a simple model of the skier's dynamics. In addition we have calculated the ratio between mechanical work and metabolic energy, which may give some hints on the efficiency as a function of the speed. It turns out that efficiency increases with the speed up to a maximum located at around 4.5 km/h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-406
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Locomotion
  • Skiing
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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