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Winter Olympics: Everything you need to know about cross-country skiing at the Beijing 2022 Games

Cross-country skiing, undoubtedly the endurance sport of the Winter Olympics, will once again be in the spotlight in Beijing.

The sport discipline was present at the introduction of the first Winter Games in 1924, albeit then only the men’s 50 km and 18 km. However, cross-country skiing has been used as a means of transport in the Scandinavian areas for a much longer period of time, more than 6000 years.

In quite a remarkable sport, cross-country skiers need tremendous strength to propel themselves uphill, flat and downhill.

Sportsmail takes you through everything you need to know for the competition.

Norwegian Therese Johaug will be one to watch in the Cross-Country Skiing competition

Norwegian Therese Johaug will be one to watch in the Cross-Country Skiing competition

Where is the location for cross-country skiing in 2022?

The competition will take place at the National Cross-Country Centre, in the Zhangjiakou cluster, one of the three zones at the Games.

The venue, which will also host the Nordic Combined competition, was built for the 2022 Games and will be used as a tourist resort upon completion.

The National Cross-Country Center will also host the Nordic Combined competition

The National Cross-Country Center will also host the Nordic Combined competition

The National Cross-Country Center will also host the Nordic Combined competition

With the first locally broadcast Omicron case confirmed in Beijing in recent days, Beijing 2022 organizers have pulled the plug on plans to sell tickets widely while spectators based abroad have already been banned.

Instead, there will be an ‘adjusted program’ that will invite groups of spectators, but how many remains to be seen.

Cross-country disciplines and how it works

It is essential to note that two different techniques are used during the cross country events.

The first is a classic technique, the slower of the two, where the athlete’s skiers move back and forth parallel to each other. In the freestyle technique, also known as the skate technique, the athletes move their feet separately from side to side, which resembles an action closer to that of a skater.


Athletes all start the course at the same time. During the first half of the course they have to use the classic ski technique, before switching to the skate ski technique halfway through.

  • 15 km Classic Technique Men + 15 km Skate Ski Technique
  • 7.5 km Classic Technique Women + 7.5 km Skate Ski Technique

The top 30 finishers in the qualifying round advance to the quarter-finals. Only two athletes from each heat advance to the semi-finals. This pattern is followed until the last round.

Individual 10km/15km

All athletes start individually at 15-30 second intervals.

  • 15 km men with classic or skate ski technique
  • 10 km ladies with skate ski technique

Individual and team sprint

Athletes participating in this event will run a short distance with the men covering 1.4km and the women 1.2km. In both cases they use a freestyle skiing technique.

In the team sprint, however, the athletes work as a pair, alternating after running two laps around the track.

The athletes alternate by tagging their teammates so they don’t interfere with their competitors. Once tagged, they will run for two laps until both athletes have completed six full laps each.

Mass start

Mass start is the longest cross-country skiing event, with the male athletes covering 50 km and the female athletes 30 km. In this event, all athletes start together using the classical technique.

Team relay

The format of the team relay is very similar to the team sprint, with one notable difference, namely that four athletes participate.

The male athletes will cover a distance of 4×10 km and the women will cover a distance of 4×5 km, with a classic technique used for the first two stages of the race and a skating technique for the last two.


Saturday 5 February

Women’s 7.5 km + 7.5 km skiathlon (7:45 a.m.)

Sunday, February 6

Men’s 15km + 15km Skiathlon (7h)

tuesday 8 february

Women’s Sprint Free Qualifying (8h)

Men’s Sprint Free Qualifier (8:50am)

Women’s Free Quarter Finals Sprint (10.30am)

Men’s Free Quarter Finals Sprint (10:55 AM)

Women’s Free Semifinal Sprint (11:25am)

Men’s Sprint Free Semifinal (11.35am)

Women’s Sprint Free Final (11.47am)

Men’s Sprint Free Final (12 Hours)

thursday 10 february

10 km classic ladies (7h)

Friday 11 February:

15 km classic men (7h)

Saturday 12 February

Relay 4 x 5 km ladies (7:30 am)

Sunday 13 February

4 x 10 km relay men (7h)

Wednesday 16 February

Classic women’s team sprint, semi-finals (9am)

Men’s Team Sprint Classic Semi-Final (9:40am)

Final Team Sprint Classic Women (11 hours)

Final Team Sprint Classic Men (11.30am)

Saturday 19 February

50 km mass start men free (6 hours)

Sunday 20 February

Mass start women 30 km free (6.30 am)

Who to watch at the Winter Olympics

Exciting news for fans of the British Winter Olympics: this year there will be three Team GB representatives in the Cross-country Skiing format.

It is Andrew Young and James Clugnet, who recorded the best team sprint result for cross-country skiing ever in Great Britain at the FIS Cross-Country Team Sprint Finals in Dresden in December, and Andrew Musgrave.

Russian duo Alexander Bolshunov (men) and Norwegian Therese Johaug (women) will also be featured.

Bolshunov won four medals (three silver and one bronze) in 2018, while Johaug won four golds at the 2021 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

Team GB Squad: James Clugnet, Andrew Musgrave, Andrew Young

Cross Country Skiing: 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics Gold Medalists

Men’s 50km – Gold Medal Winners

  • 2018 – Iivo Niskanen (Finland)
  • 2014 – Free (Disqualified)
  • 2010 – Petter Northug (Norway)
  • 2006 – Giorgio Di Centa (Italy)

Men’s 4x10km relay – gold medal winners

  • 2018 – Norway
  • 2014 – Sweden
  • 2010 – Sweden
  • 2006 – Italy

Men’s Individual Sprint – Gold Medalist

  • 2018 – Johannes Hosflot Kaebo (Norway)
  • 2014 – Ola Vigen Hattesad (Norway)
  • 2010 – Nikita Kryukov (Russia)
  • 2006 – Bjorn Lind (Sweden)

Men’s Team Sprint – Gold Medalists

  • 2018 – Norway
  • 2014 – Finland
  • 2010 – Norway
  • 2006 – Sweden

Men’s 15km Free – Gold Medalists

  • 2018 – Dario Cologna (Switzerland)
  • 2014 – Dario Cologna (Switzerland)
  • 2010 – Dario Cologna (Switzerland)
  • 2006 – Andrus Veerpalu (Estonia)

Men’s 15km + 15km Skiathalon – Gold Medals

  • 2018 – Simen Hegstad Kruger (Norway)
  • 2014 – Dario Cologna (Switzerland)
  • 2010 – Marcus Hellner (Sweden)
  • 2006 – Yevgeny Dementyev (Russia)

Women’s 30km – Gold Medal Winners

  • 2018 – Marit Bjorgen (Norway)
  • 2014 -Marit Bjorgen (Norway)
  • 2010 -Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland)
  • 2006 – Katerina Neumannova (Czech Republic)

Women’s 4x5km relay – gold medal winners

  • 2018 – Norway
  • 2014 – Sweden
  • 2010 – Norway
  • 2006 – Russia

Women’s Individual Sprint – Gold Medalist

  • 2018 – Stina Nilsson (Sweden)
  • 2014 – Maiken Caspersen Falla (Norway)
  • 2010 – Marit Bjorgen (Norway)
  • 2006 – Chandra Crawford (Canada)

Women’s Team Sprint – Gold Medal Winners

  • 2018 – USA
  • 2014 – Norway
  • 2010 – Germany
  • 2006 – Sweden

Women’s 10km Free – Gold Medal Winners

  • 2018 – Ragnhild Haga (Norway)
  • 2014 – Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland)
  • 2010 – Charlotte Kalla (Sweden)
  • 2006 – Kristina Smigun (Estonia)

7.5 km + 7.5 km Women’s Skiathalon – Gold Medalists

  • 2018 – Charlotte Kalla (Sweden)
  • 2014 – Marit Bjorgen (Norway)
  • 2010 – Marit Bjorgen (Norway)
  • 2006 – Kristina Smigun (Estonia)

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