Cross-country skiing comprises 12 events made up of 6 disciplines.  Each discipline has both a men’s and a women’s event.

There is an individual sprint, a team sprint, a freestyle, a pursuit, a classical, and a relay.  Cross-country skiing consists of two basic skiing techniques.

The classical cross-country skiing technique is when skiers use a diagonal stride and the skis stay parallel to each other.  Freestyle cross-country skiers use a motion that is similar to ice skating.  They push the ski outward at a 45-degree angle and backwards at the same time.  The Freestyle technique is typically faster than the classical.

Individual Sprint

individual-sprintThe goal of the individual sprint is for the participant to complete the run the fastest.  Women compete on a 1.4 kilometre run and men compete on a 1.6 kilometre run.  Competitors start at 15-second intervals in the qualifying round.  The 30 top skiers move on to the next round where they compete in quarterfinal heats.  There are 6 starters in each quarterfinal, semi-final, and final races.  The first and second place competitors in each heat move on to the final race and the fastest 3rd and 4th place competitor from all of the races compete in the finals as well.

Team Sprint

team-sprintFor the team sprint the racers compete in a relay race.  There are two skiers in each team who complete three 1.5 kilometre legs each.  There are 10 to 15 teams that compete in the semi-final round.  The top 5 teams in each heat move onto the finals.  The winner of the team spring is the team who finishes first after completing 6 legs.


Female freestyle competitors complete a 10 kilometre run and male competitors complete a 15 kilometre run.  Freestyle races utilise a mass start similar to the classical race.  The winner is the skier who finishes first.


persuitIn a pursuit cross country even both styles of cross country skiing are used.  During the first half of the event participants use the classical style and during the second half they use freestyle.  Women are expected to complete a 15 kilometre run while men complete a 30 kilometre run.  Skiers have to change skis mid race when they change techniques and the timer is not stopped.


For the classical cross country racers competitors line up in rows of 7 to 11 participants and all start when the pistol is fired.  Women complete a 30 kilometre run while men complete a 50 kilometre run.  Spectators can see skiers every 10 to 12 minutes because the course is set up in a small loop.  The first finisher is the winner and there are often 10 people competing for this spot in a photo finish.


relayEach team in a relay cross country race has 4 team-mates.  For the men’s races each competitor completes one 10 kilometre leg while for the women’s race each competitor completes one 5 kilometre leg.  Life the pursuit the first half of the race is skied classical style while the second half is skied freestyle.  Relay races use a mass start like the classical race.  There are 4 legs for the relay.  The team the wins the last leg is the overall winner.

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