Cross Country Skiing

Facts

Discipline of Skiing
Participants 2559
NOCs 89
Competitions held 169 (Venues)
Distinct events 31
IF Fédération internationale de ski

Description

Cross-country skiing has been practiced in the Scandinavian countries since the 18th century, and competitions are known from the early 19th century. The sport has been on the Olympic Program since the Chamonix games of 1924. The sport has been dominated, not surprisingly, by the Scandinavian countries with the Soviet Union and Russia. The most successful man and woman at the Winter Olympics are both cross-country skiers: Bjørn Dæhlie (eight gold medals) and Lyubov Yegorova (six golds).

Until the 1970s, all cross-counry racers competed in the same style, alternating legs and arms with the stride being pushed straight backwards, remaining in the ski track. In the 1970s, a new style was developed by American Bill Koch, making a skating-like motion with one of the skis. This technique was adopted to use two legs, and turned out to be much faster. The Fédération internationale de ski (FIS) was pushed to ban this style by the North Europeans, but it was decided instead to allow two styles. However, races are now designated as either “classical” or “freestyle”, with skating being allowed in freestyle races.

Originally, all cross-country races were held in a time trial fashion, with skiers starting in intervals. However, after revision of the program in the early 21st century, only one such race is left on the Olympic Program, the 10 km for men and the 5 km for women. The other individual events are the sprint, in which four to six skiers race for approximately 1,500 metres, the pursuit, in which half of the race is skied in classical style and half in freestyle, and the mass-start marathon, which is held over 50 km for men, and 30 km for women. In addition, two team competitions are staged: the relay and the team sprint.

All-time medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Norway NOR 47 42 32 121
Sweden SWE 31 25 24 80
Soviet Union URS 25 22 21 68
Finland FIN 21 25 34 80
Russian Federation RUS 14 10 9 33
Italy ITA 9 13 13 35
Estonia EST 4 2 1 7
Switzerland SUI 4 0 4 8
Unified Team EUN 3 2 4 9
Germany GER 2 9 4 15
Poland POL 2 1 2 5
East Germany GDR 2 1 1 4
Canada CAN 2 1 0 3
Czech Republic CZE 1 5 3 9
Austria AUT 1 2 2 5
Kazakhstan KAZ 1 2 1 4
United States USA 1 1 0 2
Olympic Athletes from Russia OAR 0 3 5 8
Czechoslovakia TCH 0 1 4 5
France FRA 0 1 3 4
Slovenia SLO 0 0 2 2
Bulgaria BUL 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Marit Bjørgen NOR 8 4 3 15
Bjørn Dæhlie NOR 8 4 0 12
Lyubov Yegorova RUS
EUN
6 3 0 9
Larisa Lazutina RUS
EUN
5 1 1 7
Thomas Alsgaard NOR 5 1 0 6
Raisa Smetanina URS
EUN
4 5 1 10
Sixten Jernberg SWE 4 3 2 9
Galina Kulakova URS 4 2 2 8
Gunde Svan SWE 4 1 1 6
Nikolay Zimyatov URS 4 1 0 5

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Sprint Men 5
15 kilometres Men 14
50 kilometres Men 23
30 km Skiathlon Men 4
4 × 10 kilometres Relay Men 20
Team Sprint Men 4
Sprint Women 5
10 kilometres Women 15
30 kilometres Women 8
15 km Skiathlon Women 4
4 × 5 kilometres Relay Women 12
Team Sprint Women 4
Sprint Boys 3
10 kilometres Boys 3
Cross Boys 2
Sprint Girls 3
5 kilometres Girls 3
Cross Girls 2
10 kilometres Men 3
18 kilometres Men 6
30 kilometres Men 13
10/10 kilometres Pursuit Men 1
10/15 kilometres Pursuit Men 3
5 km Cross Country, B1 Men 1
5 kilometres Women 10
15 kilometres Women 4
20 kilometres Women 2
5/5 kilometres Pursuit Women 1
5/10 kilometres Pursuit Women 3
3 × 5 kilometres Relay Women 5
5 km Cross Country, B1 Women 1