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Winter Olympics: Altitude affects skill sports, not just endurance events
Date:2/16/2010

athletes to change the angle of their lean depending on the altitude. Chapman said the women's and men's Olympic downhill skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboarding events take place at higher altitudes this month and could require technical adjustments by the athletes.

Chapman and his co-authors make the following recommendations concerning training and performing at altitude:

  • Allow extra time and practice for athletes to adjust to changes in projectile motion. Athletes in sports such as hockey, shooting, figure skating and ski jumping may be particularly affected.
  • Allow time for acclimatization for endurance sports: Three to five days if possible, especially for low altitude (1,640-6,562 feet); one to two weeks for moderate altitude (6,562-9,843 feet); and at least two weeks if possible for high altitude (more than 9,843 feet). Chapman said altitude affects breathing, too, with breathing initially being harder at higher altitudes.
  • Increase exercise-recovery ratios as much as possible, with a 1:3 ratio probably optimal, and consider more frequent substitutions for sports where this is allowed, such as ice hockey. Recovery refers to the amount of time an athlete eases up during practice between harder bouts. If an athlete runs hard for one minute, following this with three minutes of slower running would be optimal before the next sprint. The recovery period gives athletes more time to clear lactic acid build up from their muscles.
  • Consider the use of supplemental oxygen on the sidelines in ice hockey or in between heats in skating and Alpine skiing to help with recovery. Chapman said this helps calm breathing, which can be more difficult at altitude.
  • Living at high altitudes while training at low altitudes can help athletes in endurance sports improve performance at lower altitudes.


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Contact: Robert Chapman
rfchapma@indiana.edu
812-856-2452
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert

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