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Title: Paleo-biomechanics and paleo-energetics of cross-country skiing and ice skating (3200 BC to date)
Author: Formenti, Federico
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis originated from the interest in understanding features characterizing the development of human locomotion on snow and on ice since their very beginning. No evidence could be found on how performance changed through history and there was no ground for reasonable assumptions to be made on the energy cost of these forms of transport. The thesis aims at estimating sustainable speeds over a range of distances by adopting different ski and skate sets, belonging to subsequent epochs. Particular focus has been posed on understanding which technical and technological changes could determine an improvement in performance, quantified by means of speed and metabolic energy cost measurements. Numerous studies focused on the determinants of cross-country skiing and ice skating performance in modern competitions, but no data can be found in literature on the cost of human locomotion on snow and ice since its very beginning. Measuring the cost of skiing and skating for past epochs would not only give the opportunity to understand which parameters humans empirically identified as the greatest limiting factors, but would also give a general idea of lifestyle, showing distances people could travel for their daily activities. During the long winters, when travelling on snow or on ice was not as effective as on dry ground, people inhabiting Northern regions were forced to develop tools in order to go hunting and look for food. Limiting the cost of locomotion would allow for a more efficient travelling: humans could cover the same distance in a shorter time or reach further destinations. More importantly, in the harsh conditions imposed by nature, saving energy while moving might have been crucial in increasing survival chances. Chapters 2 and 4 will show how performance on snow and ice changed since their very beginning five thousand years ago. Apparently, the first humans trying to use skis lived in Scandinavia, where heavy snowfalls covered the ground for several months per year. The oldest skis found and dated support this hypothesis. Differently, the oldest ice skates, dating back to about 2000BC, were found in many European regions and can not be clearly ordered chronologically. Therefore, a precise correspondence between where and when humans first tried to travel on ice can not be achieved at present. In chapter 3, I try to show how using skates might lead to a greater energy saving in Finland than in any between the other countries where the oldest bone skates were found.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available