An even colder war? Specialization and scientization in the training methods of cross-country skiing from the 1940s in Sweden and the Soviet Union.
Book chapter, 2017
This work analyzes the official training advice given to prospective elite skiers in Sweden and the Soviet Union from the late 1940s until the 1970s. How was training scientized in relation to the Cold War context? In what ways did neutral Sweden differ from the Soviet Union? What type of organizations took an interest in the rationalization of training and why? The sportification process accelerated during the Cold War period in both the Soviet Union and Sweden, despite their many differences in political system, international relations, tradition and economy. It is also clear that the scientific contribution to sport, not least skiing, was vital in both countries. As the knowledge about Soviet sport science and training development increases, this also sheds new light on the Cold War era and its impact on sport. For the developments in cross-country skiing as well as sport science, the conscious effort by the Soviet Union to be the avant-garde of scientized training directly affected other countries such as Sweden into accelerating their own efforts. The Cold War was therefore not only fought in space or by military means, but also in labs and skiing tracks. What is particularly interesting is that similar research on athletes was motivated in radically different ways. In Soviet, sports and thus also sport science was highly political. In Sweden, it was framed as neutral, relating more to rationality and scientific ideals than to sport performance.