Gait models and mechanical energy in three cross-country skiing Techniques

Barbara Pellegrini, Chiara Zoppirolli, Lorenzo Bortolan, Paola Zamparo, Federico Schena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fluctuations in mechanical energy of the body center of mass (COM) have been widely analyzed when investigating different gaits in human and animal locomotion. We applied this approach to estimate the mechanical work in cross-country skiing and to identify the fundamental mechanisms of this particular form of locomotion. We acquired movements of body segments, skis, poles and plantar pressures for eight skiers while they roller skied on a treadmill at 14 km h-1 and a 2 deg slope using three different techniques (diagonal stride, DS; double poling, DP; double poling with kick, DK). The work associated with kinetic energy (KE) changes of COM was not different between techniques; the work against gravity associated with potential energy (PE) changes was higher for DP than for DK and was lowest for DS. Mechanical work against the external environment was 0.87 J m-1 kg-1 for DS, 0.70 J m-1 kg-1 for DP and 0.79 J m-1 kg-1 for DK. The work done to overcome frictional forces, which is negligible in walking and running, was 17.8%, 32.3% and 24.8% of external mechanical work for DS, DP and DK, respectively. The pendulum-like recovery (R%) between PE and KE was ∼45%, ∼26% and ∼9% for DP, DK and DS, respectively, but energy losses by friction are not accounted for in this computation. The pattern of fluctuations of PE and KE indicates that DS can be described as a 'grounded running', where aerial phases are substituted by ski gliding phases, DP can be described as a pendular gait, whereas DK is a combination of both.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3910-3918
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Locomotion
  • Mechanical work
  • Roller skiing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Insect Science
  • Aquatic Science


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