Cross-Country Skiing at PyeongChang 2018

Venues: Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre

Competition Dates: February 10-11, 13, 15-18, 21, 24-25 (Days 1-2, 4, 6-9, 12, 15-16)

Events: 12 (6 men, 6 women)

Traditionally, Olympic cross-country skiing events alternate between classical and free technique from Games to Games. In classical technique, the skis move parallel to each other through machine-groomed tracks in the snow, whereas there are no restrictions in free technique, making for a slightly faster motion.

There are 12 events on the Olympic program, which can be divided into six categories:

Skiathlon

Individual

Mass start

Sprint

Team sprint

Relay (4 x 10km – men, 4 x 5km – ladies)

The skiathlon is the only event in which skiers use both techniques. They begin with a mass start in classical. After the first leg (15km for men, 7.5km for women), they quickly change skis in a pit box with the clock still running before embarking on a second leg of the same distance in free technique. The first skier to cross the finish line is the winner.

Daria Gaiazova

At PyeongChang 2018 the individual events (men’s 15km and women’s 10km) will use free technique. Skiers start in 30 second intervals and race against the clock, with the fastest time determining the winner.

The mass start events (men’s 50km and women’s 30km) will use the classical technique at PyeongChang 2018. Skiers start simultaneously, lined up in the shape of an arrow with the highest ranked positioned at the point. The first skier to cross the finish line is the winner.

Devon Kershaw

The sprint events will be held in classical technique at PyeongChang 2018. Competition begins with a qualification round on the approximately 1km course to rank the athletes. The top 30 advance to one of five quarterfinals. The top two in each quarterfinal as well as the two fastest “lucky losers” advance to one of two semifinals. The top two in each semifinal as well as the two fastest “lucky losers” advance to the final, where the first skier to cross the finish line is the winner.

Daria Gaiazova

In the team sprint, which will be in free technique at PyeongChang 2018, two athletes alternately ski three legs apiece. Competition begins with two semifinals. The top three teams in each advance to the final along with the four fastest “lucky losers”. The first team to complete its six laps is the winner.

In the relays (men’s 4x10km and women’s 4x5km), the first two legs are in classical technique with the last two in free technique. The first skiers on each team start simultaneously. Upon completion of their leg they must tag the next team member to go out. The first team to have its final skier cross the finish line is the winner.

Canadian History (pre-PyeongChang 2018)

All three of Canada’s Olympic cross-country skiing medals have been won by women, the first by Beckie Scott at Salt Lake City 2002, where she was the gold medallist in the 5km + 5km pursuit. Four years later, she joined with Sara Renner to win silver in the classic team sprint at Turin 2006. At those Games, Chandra Crawford stood atop the podium with a gold medal in the free sprint.

Skiing - Cross Country

Scott also posted two other best-ever Canadian results, finishing fourth in the 10km classic at Salt Lake City 2002 and sixth in the skiathlon at Turin 2006.

The Canadian men had an impressive set of Olympic performances at Vancouver 2010 with five best-ever finishes within the top-10. Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw just missed the podium with a fourth place finish in the free team sprint. Kershaw was fifth in the 50km classic mass start, just six-tenths of a second out of bronze medal position after more than two hours of racing. Ivan Babikov also placed fifth in the skiathlon while George Grey and Harvey finished eighth and ninth. Babikov finished eighth in the 15km free. Those four men teamed up to place seventh in the 4x10km relay.

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