Cross-Country Skiing – Hardest Event of the Winter Olympics

It’s funny, many people have been to the gym and worked out on a “cross trainer”, but few people have ever given any thought as to what it is really best for. Why is it called a cross trainer? What sports skills was it designed to improve? What is wrong with the rowing machine or treadmill?

Well, the cross trainer, also called an elliptical trainer, was not actually designed to aid cross country skiers, but it is extremely beneficial in this respect. As it works both the upper and lower body equally (resistance for both can be adjusted on all good machines) it provides one of the best off-season endurance workouts for cross country skiers.


Unlike most sports, cross country skiing is very seasonal, and also extremely demanding. So contestants soon found that they benefited hugely from specific training. Just performing weight training and cardio is not enough to reach peak performance as you need muscular endurance as well as strength, and to be able to use your muscles in a specific motion that is different to jogging or cycling.

Cross training, or cross country skiing, like Nordic walking, is an excellent form of exercise as it uses your whole body.

The Cross Country Skiing Events

The most enduring of the races is the Men’s 50 km “Mass Start Classic”, but there are races over several different distances:

Men’s Races

  • 15 kilometre freestyle
  • 30 kilometre pursuit
  • 50 kilometre classical
  • 4 x 10 kilometre relay
  • Sprint
  • Team sprint

Women’s Races

  • 10 kilometre freestyle
  • 15 kilometre pursuit
  • 30 kilometre classical
  • 4 x 5 kilometre relay
  • Sprint
  • Team sprint

Selected Results from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games

The women’s 10km freestyle was won by Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla, and the men’s 15km freestyle as won by Switzerland’s Dario Colognain.

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