Performance Development in Cross-country Skiing and Biathlon

The research group aims to contribute to increased scientific understanding of the performance development in cross-country skiing and biathlon.

​​​​​​​​Research Division:  Physical education, sports and outdoor life​.
The overall goal of the resear​ch group is to develop knowledge relevant to the development process of young athletes in cross-country skiing and biathlon combining elite sport and education at Meråker High School and Nord University in Meråker. Our work will contribute to better training guidelines for young athletes in various sports and increase our understanding of athletes combining elite sport and education. 

The group aims to deliver high-quality research and answer research questions with high relevance for elite athletes and coaches. 

​In Meråker, there are 15 full-time coaches as well as 150 competitive cross-country skiers and biathletes. The research group is thus closely connected to athletes and coaches through the collaboration with Meråker High school. This close collaboration enables applied research of high quality on the training and development process of young endurance athletes. Through a specialized Bachelor’s program for athletes in cross-country skiing and biathlon, these students are provided a unique opportunity to take part in the various research projects.

​A good example of this is a recent project that was carried out in collaboration with SINTEF digital, the Center of Elite Sports Research at NTNU and Meråker High School. 

​Research Projects – active projects​

​The effect of theoretical and practical training on micro pacing abilities in cross-country skiing​

Project leader: Collaboration project led by Trine Seeberg (SINTEF-Digital). 

Purpose: Investigate the effects of training on different micro-pacing patterns in cross country skiing.

Partners: SINTEF-digital and Centre for Elite sport Research (NTNU)

The Female Endurance Athlete (FENDURA)​

Project leader: Collaboration project led Boye Welde at the Artic University of Norway (UiT)    

Purpose: The projects aims at improve our knowledge of how hormonal fluctuations and other female-specific aspects influences training and performance among female endurance athletes. 

Partners: UiT, Centre for Elite sport Research, Norwegian Olympic Federations, Norwegian Ski Federation and Norwegian Biathlon Association.

Solli GS, Sandbakk SB, Noordhof DA, Ihalainen JK, Sandbakk Ø. Changes in Self-Reported Physical Fitness, Performance, and Side Effects Across the Phases of the Menstrual Cycle Among Competitive Endurance Athletes.Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2020 Sep 21:1-10. 

Ihalainen, Johanna K.; Kettunen, Oona; McGawley, Kerry; Solli, Guro Strøm, Hackney, Anthony C; Mero, Antti A.; Kyröläinen, Heikki (2021). Body composition, energy availability, training load, and menstrual status in high level young female endurance runners over a season. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. [Accepted]

More informasjon:

Passion, grit and mindset in cross country skiers and biathletes  

Project leader: Ove Erik Tronvoll 

Purpose:  Investigate how the various psychological factors "passion, grit and mindset" are related to performance development in cross-country skiers and biathletes.

Partners : Hermundur Sigmundsson (NTNU)
Research Projects – closed projects

The Training Characterisitcs of The most Successful Winter Olympian in History​

Project leader: Guro Strøm Solli. 

Purpose: To describe and understand the development process of one of our most successful athletes in history in order to generate new hypotheses for future research.

Partners: Centre for Elite sport Research and Norwegian Olympic Federation.


Solli, Guro Strøm; Kocbach., Jan; Sandbakk Silvana Bucher; Haugnes Pål; Losnegard, Thomas; Sandbakk, Øyvind (2020). Sex-based differences in sub-technique selection during an international classical cross-country skiing competition​. PLoS ONE.

Solli, Guro Strøm; Sandbakk, Øyvind. (2018) Training characteristics during pregnancy and postpartum in the world's most successful cross country skier. Frontiers in Physiology. vol. 9:595 

Solli, Guro Strøm; Tønnessen, Espen; Sandbakk, Øyvind. (2017) The Training Characteristics of the World’s Most Successful Female Cross-Country Skier. Frontiers in Physiology. vol. 8.

Solli, Guro Strøm; Tønnessen, Espen; Sandbakk, Øyvind. (2020) The multidisciplinary process leading to return from underperformance and sustainable success in the world’s best cross-country skier. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 

Solli, Guro Strøm; Tønnessen, Espen; Sandbakk, Øyvind. (2019) Block versus Traditional Periodization of HIT: Two Different Paths to Success for the World’s Best Cross-Country Skier​. Frontiers in Physiology. vol. 8.

More​ information:
PhD projects

Upper body Physiology and Kinematics in Specialized-long Distance and Distance XC skiers

Project leader: Per-Øyvind Torvik

Purpose: The overall objectives of the project is to investigate different manipulations of the upper body and its influence on physical, kinematic, perceptual responses and performance, in classical and skating elite cross-country skiing.

Partners: The candidate is supervised by prof. Roland van den Tillaar (Nord Universitet) and prof. Øyvind Sandbakk (NTNU Senter for Toppidrettsforskning)

Torvik P.-Ø. van den Tillaar R, Talsnes R, Danielsen J, Sandbakk Ø. (202X) A comparison of the biomechanical and physiological responses to double poling between long-distance specialists and distance cross-co​untry skiers. In Prosses

Torvik, P. Ø., Persson, J., & van den Tillaar, R. (2021). The Effects of Sub‐Technique and Pole Length on Classic Roller Skiing Performance and Physiological Responses at Steep Uphill Inclination. Journal of Human Kinetics, 77(1), 97-105.

Torvik, P. Ø., Heimburg, E. D. V., Sende, T., & Welde, B. (2019). The effect of pole length on physiological and perceptual responses during G3 roller ski skating on uphill terrain. Plos One, 14(2), e0211550.II.

Torvik, P. Ø., van den Tillaar, R., Bostad, G., Sandbakk, Ø. (2021) The effect of increased pole length on performance during an on-snow cross-country skating competition for women, (submitted)

Torvik, P. Ø., van den Tillaar, R., Sandbakk, Ø. (2021) Choice of pole and ski lengths among elite cross-country skiers: the influence of sex and performance level​  Front. Sports Act. 

Torvik, P. Ø., Solli, G. S., & Sandbakk, Ø. (2021). The training characteristics of world-class male long-distance cross-country skiers. Front. Sports Act. Living,

Endurance training for optimizing the performance development in cross-country skiing

Project:  Meråker high school has realized their own PhD project by funding from the Research Council of Norway (NFR), which allows an employee within the public sector to do a Ph.D. relevant to the schools practice  and contribute with new knowledge and competence. 

The Ph.D. candidate, Rune Kjøsen Talsnes is associated with the research group.​

Purpose: The overall goal of the PhD project is to investigate the underlying mechanisms of Chinese athletes transferring to cross-country skiing, and to investigate the effect of different endurance training among Norwegian junior cross-country skiers and biathletes. In addition, Rune contributes to several research projects relevant to the research group. The project period is 4 years from 2019-2023.

Partners: The PhD project is a collaboration between Meråker High School, Nord University and Centre for Elite Sports Research NTNU. The candidate's supervisors are Roland van den Tillaar (Nord University) and Øyvind Sandbakk (Centre for Elite Sports Research NTNU). In addition, the Olympic skiers and coaches Frode Estil and Tor-Arne Hetland both work as mentors for Rune and will ensure the research's relevance to the field of practice.


Luchsinger, H., Talsnes, R. K., Kocbach, J., and Sandbakk, Ø. (2019). Analysis of a Biathlon Sprint Competition and Associated Laboratory Determinants of Performance. 1(60). doi:10.3389/fspor.2019.00060

Talsnes, R. K., Hetland, T.-A., Cai, X., and Sandbakk, Ø. (2020). Development of Performance, Physiological and Technical Capacities During a Six-Month Cross-Country Skiing Talent Transfer Program in Endurance Athletes. Front. Sports Act. Living., 2(103). doi:10.3389/fspor.2020.00103

Talsnes, R. K., van den Tillaar, R., Cai, X., and Sandbakk, Ø. (2020). Comparison of High- vs. Low-Responders Following a 6-Month XC Ski-Specific Training Period: A Multidisciplinary Approach. 2(114). doi:10.3389/fspor.2020.00114

Other contributions:​

Talsnes, Rune K., Hetland, Tor-Arne., Sandbakk, Øyvind. Akklimatisering til utholdenhetskonkurranser i mellomhøyde – hvorfor og hvordan? Kondis: organ for Den norske maratonklubb. Juli 2020. 

Talsnes, Rune K., Sandbakk, Øyvind. Høydetrening i utholdenhetsidretter – hva vet vi egentlig og når bør det benyttes? Kondis: organ for Den norske maratonklubb. Januar 2021. 

Øyvind, Sandbakk., Talsnes, Rune K. Faglege betraktningar i «høgdehusdebatten». Trenerklubben. Norges Skiforbund. Mars 2021.

 Research Group Leader



Rune Kjøsen Talsnes​, PhD candidate, Nord University/Meråker videregående skole
External members: 

Silvana Bucher Sandbakk, Associate Professor​ NTNU
Øyvind Bucher Sandbakk​, Professor NTNU​
Frode Estil​, ​Meråker videregående skole​
Atle Kvålsvoll​, Olympiatopp​en Midt-Norge​​