How the Finnish cross-country teams prepared for Oberstdorf

Benedikt, April 12 2021

The Finnish cross-country skiing teams have been using our performance analysis solution since early 2020. Dr. Olli Ohtonen, Director of Research and Development, National Olympic Training Center Vuokatti-Ruka, gives us insights on how they used our system for preparing this year's World Championships in Oberstdorf.

Group picture of the support team measuring the track profiles in Oberstdorf
Support team measuring the track profiles in Oberstdorf.
From left to right: Teemu Lemmettylä, Dr. Olli Ohtonen, Juho Halonen.

Archinisis: How did you use our system to prepare the Oberstdorf World Championships?

Olli Ohtonen: We were in Oberstdorf last winter and recorded all tracks with the Archinisis system. We wanted to measure the exact track profiles and were especially interested in the length and inclination of the uphill sections. In addition, we wanted to know the skiing speeds that could be expected and which sub-technique was the most likely to be used at any point. With this knowledge, we were able to design our summer training to exactly match the requirements that athletes would be facing during the cross-country skiing World Championships.

"Knowing the track profile and expected skiing speeds we were able to design our summer training to exactly match the requirements that athletes would be facing during the cross-country skiing World Championships."

Archinisis: Did you also use the system during the World Championships?

Olli Ohtonen: Yes. A few days before the official start of the World Championships we participated in unofficial pre-races and used these as an experiment to measure the most efficient uphill skiing tactic. We also wanted to know what happens with an athlete’s performance if he starts the "Burgstall uphill" too fast.

Archinisis: How did using this performance analysis system change your training?

Olli Ohtonen: Besides a more targeted and efficient training and obtaining a clear race tactic, the cooperation and collaboration between the different teams and even sports has been greatly improved. Indeed, the system is currently used not only by our cross-country skiing teams, but also for biathlon and alpine ski racing. With this shared use, we were able to exploit the synergies between the disciplines and efficiently exchange knowledge. Everyone was thus able to take advantage of each other's experience.

Archinisis: Which feature did you use the most?

Olli Ohtonen: Clearly, the race analysis. In a very short amount of time it provides highly accurate timing feedback. Furthermore, this feature is the ideal tool to observe how the differences between athletes influence performance. The individual strengths of each athlete can be monitored and then efficiently developed and improved.

"With the race analysis feature, the individual strengths of each athlete can be monitored and then efficiently developed and improved."

Archinisis: The last question I would like to ask you is whether you have dedicated staff to handle the system?

Olli Ohtonen: Yes, for each race or training camp we had a dedicated person with the team, from outside the coaching staff. This person was usually from the National Olympic Training Center Vuokatti-Ruka or a student. He / she was responsible for sensor handling, data download and analysis. The system is simple enough to use for a coach, but if you need to handle up to 20 sensors at the same time, this is simply too much work. The docking station greatly helps here, as the data download and sensor charging can be automatized. With this, a coach can indeed manage the entire system by himself.

We are very grateful to Dr. Olli Ohtonen for sharing his experience. We wish all staff and athletes of the Finnish teams a great success for next season. We look forward to continuing this collaboration.