Mechanical parameters as predictors of performance in alpine World Cup slalom racing

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The aims of the present study were to develop a method for classifying slalom skiing performance and to examine differences in mechanical parameters. Eighteen elite skiers were recorded with three-dimensional kinematical measurements and thereafter divided into a higher (HP) and lower performance group, using the ratio between the difference in mechanical energy divided by the mass of the skier and section entrance velocity (Δemech/vin). Moreover, the skiers' velocity (v), acceleration (a), center of mass turn radii (RCM) and skis' turn radii (RAMS), ground reaction forces (GRF) and differential specific mechanical energy [diff(emech)] were calculated.vand diff(emech) were different between the performance groups (P<0.001 and <0.05), while no inter-group differences inRCM,RAMS,aand GRF were observed. A relationship betweenRAMS and diff(emech) was demonstrated (r=0.58;P<0.001). The highest GRFs were related to the lowest diff(emech) andawas related to GRF (r=−0.60;P<0.001). The Δemech/vin predicted the performance over short course sections. The HP skiers skied with a highervand a similar range of diff(emech). We suggest that shortestRAMS and the highest GRFs should be reduced in elite slalom in order to increase performance.

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