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Skiing – Cross-Country

Cross-country skiing has been used for thousands of years as a way of getting around on snow.  The oldest skis, found in Russia, are believed to be more than 6000 years old.  Ancient cave drawings in Norway are also evidence of skiing’s long history for use in both hunting and fighting.  Cross-country skiing as a sport began in the mid-19th century, at about the same time that it was brought to North America.  The first race on record was held in Tromsø, Norway in 1843.

Check out the Sochi 2014 Cross-Country Skiing Team

Cross-country skiing was on the program of the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924 with two men’s events.  Women began competing in Olympic cross-country skiing at Oslo 1952.

There are two basic racing techniques: classical and free.  In classical technique, the skis move parallel to each other through machine-groomed tracks in the snow.  In free technique there are no restrictions as skiers push off with the edge of their skis in a motion similar to skating.  Free technique (also known as skate-skiing) is slightly faster than classical technique and also uses shorter skis.  There are currently six events each for men and women on the Olympic program.  Traditionally, Olympic events will alternate between classical and free technique from Games to Games.

Take a look at where Canada’s Sochi 2014 Cross-Country Skiing athletes call home

Events

Interval Start - Men and Women

In this event, men ski 15km and women ski 10km. At Sochi 2014 these events will use classical technique. Competitors start in 30 second intervals and race against the clock. The skier with the fastest time is the winner.

Mass Start - Men and Women

In this event, men ski 50km and women ski 30km. At Sochi 2014 these events will use free technique. Competitors start simultaneously, lined up in the shape of an arrow with the top-ranked skiers positioned at the arrow’s point. The first skier to cross the finish line is the winner.

Relay - Men and Women

There are four athletes per team, with the first two legs done in classical technique and the last two legs done in free technique. Each leg of the men's event is 10km while each leg of the women's event is 5km. The first skiers for each team start simultaneously and upon completion of their leg must tag the next team member to go on the course. The first team to have its final skier cross the finish line is the winner.

Skiathlon - Men and Women

This is the only individual event in which skiers will used both classical and free technique. The format of the combined technique event has undergone several changes since first appearing as the pursuit at Albertville 1992. Now known as the skiathlon, the current Olympic competition format has been used since Turin 2006. The event begins with a mass start in classical technique. After the first leg is complete (15km for men, 7.5km for women), the athletes quickly change their 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.

Sprint - Men and Women

At Sochi 2014 these events will use free technique. Competition begins with a qualification round to rank the athletes. The 30 fastest skiers advance to the quarterfinals to begin the elimination rounds. There are five quarterfinal heats, each with six skiers. The top two in each quarterfinal as well as the two fastest “lucky losers” advance to the semifinals, of which there are two heats with six skiers each. The top two in each semifinal as well as the two fastest “lucky losers” advance to the final. The first skier in the final to cross the finish line is the winner. Men’s sprint events take place over a distance of 1km to 1.8km. Ladies' sprint events take place over a distance of 0.8km to 1.6km.

Team Sprint - Men and Women

At Sochi 2014 these events will use classical technique. The team sprint is a relay of two athletes who 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”. In the men’s event each leg is over a distance of 1km to 1.8km while in the ladies' event each leg is over a distance of 0.8km to 1.6km.

Canadian Medallists

Open/Close

FINISH:

ATHLETE:

GAME:

EVENT:

RESULT:

GoldBeckie ScottSalt Lake City 2002Ladies' 5km+5km Pursuit -
GoldChandra CrawfordTurin 2006Ladies' Sprint Free -
SilverBeckie Scott, Sara RennerTurin 2006Ladies' Team Sprint Classic -
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