5 key elements for achievement on the Beijing Winter Olympics

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We just lately had the chance to speak with one in every of our contributors Øyvind Sandbakk on Episode 5 of the Coaching Science Podcast. One a part of the dialogue focussed on the distinctive challenges this Winter Olympic Video games poses on the athletes and assist groups. As we did for the Tokyo Summer season Video games, we leverage this dialog to share the 5 key elements athletes and assist groups thought-about and are at the moment making use of in Beijing. These suggestions are impressed by Øyvind’s latest publication within the Journal of Science in Sport and Train. Luckily, most suggestions will likely be relevant to athletes and their groups making ready for future worldwide competitors.

1) Hypoxic coaching: Sure! However don’t neglect altitude acclimatization

These Beijing Video games will likely be held largely at 1700 m elevation. Whereas this may be a bonus for sports activities involving brief burst of effort as a consequence of decrease air drag, sports activities with longer efforts taxing predominantly the cardio system will likely be negatively affected.

The lowered oxygen stress contributes to decreased arterial blood oxygen saturation (i.e., 5.5% discount per 1000-m elevation throughout maximal train), resulting in much less oxygen supply to working muscle groups and a consequent impairment of endurance efficiency (1).

This can be additional exacerbated for well-trained endurance athletes with a excessive VO2max in comparison with athletes with decrease endurance capability (2). Different elements reminiscent of variations within the hypoxic ventilatory response and oxygen kinetics throughout train may additionally play a task (2). Subsequently, it is very important incorporate particular coaching methods so as to enhance efficiency at average altitude, reminiscent of:

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  • Within the yr(s) previous to the Olympics, practice for greater than 60 days and take part in a number of competitions) at or above~1700 m.
  • Carry out 10–14 days of acclimatization at an altitude much like that at which the Olympic competitions will happen (~1700 m), both on the Olympic venue itself or at different areas in Asia or in Europe (which can require later adjustment to the time zone in Beijing).
  • An alternate technique entails dwelling and coaching for 14–21 days in a camp above 2000 m, adopted by 7–10 days tapering at ~1700 m.
  • To maximise erythropoiesis, keep sufficient ranges of iron (>30 ng/mL ferritin) previous to altitude, together with individualized oral supplementation with iron (~100–200 mg day by day) throughout altitude publicity as required.
Determine 1. Various coaching plan schedule suggestions resulting in the Video games (reproduced from Sandbakk et al., 2021).

2) Be warmed as much as face the chilly

Aggressive endurance skiers are sometimes uncovered to ambient temperatures starting from – 20°C to as excessive as +10°C. With ambient temperature possible under 0°C, physique temperature rises, whereas the temperature of the pores and skin falls as a consequence of cooling of the superficial musculature (3), which can subsequently affect a person’s capability to provide energy as a consequence of decreased train financial system (1). As well as, earlier experiences point out that wind might amplify the consequences of chilly temperature.

These potential unfavorable results are related to elevated pressure on the muscle groups and extra speedy fatigue as a consequence of decreased oxidative enzyme exercise, nerve and muscle excitability and nerve conduction (4).

Whereas the altitude could possibly be seen as the principle restrictive issue, managing the chilly surroundings could be one other problem that must be confronted by athletes and workers members.

To mitigate, athletes and their assist groups are inspired to:

  • Optimize individualized warm-up procedures and pacing methods at completely different temperatures
  • Put together clothes that’s applicable for various and probably altering environmental situations
  • Put together clothes that ensures optimum upkeep of core temperature
  • Develop a process for sustaining physique temperature through the interval between warm-up and the competitors itself
  • Adapt warm-up procedures and pacing methods to ambient environmental situations, with explicit concentrate on the preliminary a part of the race
  • Athletes with asthmatic signs ought to plan for applicable therapy in reference to excessive air flow at chilly temperatures

3) Put together to face the jet lag

Alongside the challenges of competing at average altitude and potential chilly climate, a number of extra stressors have to be taken account. Going to Beijing is an extended journey. For athletes competing in these occasions, journey to Beijing entails crossing eight time-zones throughout 12–15 h fights, leading to each journey fatigue and jet lag (5). Subsequently, athletes ought to:

  • Prepare to reach at the very least at some point earlier for every hour of distinction between their time zone and that in Beijing.
  • Throughout every of the three or 4 days previous to departure, shift sleep and consuming schedule by 0.5–1 h in direction of what it will likely be in Beijing.
  • To facilitate good sleep, take afternoon flights travelling east.
  • To keep away from dehydration throughout journey, drink sufficient volumes of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.
  • Plan timing of publicity to (day)mild to optimize adaptation of your circadian rhythm and think about supplementation with 2–5 mg melatonin at applicable instances if wanted.
  • Schedule meals and social contacts in accordance with the native time in Beijing.
  • Quick (20–30 min) naps can help restoration and assist keep regular alertness.
  • Keep away from intensive coaching through the first few days after arrival.

4) Covid points nonetheless stay

Competitions will likely be carried out with decreased support-teams and with out spectators. This can problem athletes to take extra duty for his or her coaching and gear, in addition to restoration and psychological preparations (e.g., attaining their full potential within the absence of spectators), whereas coaches and support-teams should put together to work extra effectively and arranged than beforehand. They are going to be preserving the next points in thoughts:

  • Cancelled or restricted world cup competitions within the preparations for the Olympics have restricted the chances each for qualifying for the Olympics and for optimum preparation for competitors. Accordingly, every nation has had various methods for dealing with these challenges in addition to attainable.
  • Routine testing for COVID-19 and attainable quarantine in reference to competitions restrict coaching and preparation for a lot of athletes.
  • Whether or not applicable or not, present guidelines in China round Covid restrict athletes’ entry to coaching services the place they may sometimes anticipate entry to be.

5) Teamwork makes the dream work!

Whereas it might sound logical, many of the athletes should reside collectively for a good bit of time within the lead as much as the Video games. Subsequently, it will be important for workers members to make sure excessive cooperation throughout the group main into and through the Olympic video games. Certainly, this level is paramount as a result of intensive COVID restrictions in place in Beijing. Profitable groups would be the ones which can be supporting one another.


As with every Olympics, all have their very own distinctive challenges. Beijing 2022 is not any exception, with extra restrictions associated to the COVID-19 state of affairs. Profitable coaches and athletes can put together as greatest they’ll, however moreover, have to assist each other and anticipate the surprising.


  1. Sandbakk, Ø., Solli, G.S., Talsnes, R.Ok. et al. Making ready for the Nordic Snowboarding Occasions on the Beijing Olympics in 2022: Proof-Primarily based Suggestions and Unanswered Questions. J. Of Sci. In Sport And Train 3, 257–269 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42978-021-00113-5
  2. Chapman RF, Stager JM, Tanner DA, Stray-Gundersen J, Levine BD. Impairment of 3000-m run time at altitude is influenced by arterial oxyhemoglobin saturation. Med Sci Sports activities Exerc. 2011;43(9):1649–56. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e318211bf45.
  3. Layden JD, Patterson MJ, Nimmo MA. Results of decreased ambient temperature on fats utilization throughout submaximal train. Med Sci Sports activities Exerc. 2002;34(5):774–9. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200205000-00008.
  4. Oksa J. Neuromuscular efficiency limitations in chilly. Int J Circumpolar Well being. 2002;61(2):154–62. https://doi.org/10.3402/ijch.v61i2.17448.
  5. van Janse Rensburg DCC, Jansen van Rensburg A, Fowler P, Fullagar H, Stevens D, Halson S, Bender A, Vincent G, Claassen-Smithers A, Dunican I, Roach GD, Sargent C, Lastella M, Cronje T. The best way to handle journey fatigue and jet lag in athletes? A scientific overview of interventions. Br J Sports activities Med. 2020;54(16):960–8. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2019-101635.


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