What would the Winter Olympics be without cross-country skiing? Ever since it debuted in 1924 it has been one of the most popular events. And the amount of spectators is increasing year by year. Representative of the event is the fact that it is open country without a strictly defined path. This in turn means that the event requires a huge amount of endurance, technique and a great ability to read the terrain. Not surprisingly, the event has been dominated by the the countries of Northern Europe and Scandinavia. If we take a look at the all time medal table since cross-country skiing debuted, the top countries are Norway, Sweden, Soviet Union, Finland and Russia. The reasons are probably many, but it undoubtedly ties into these countries rich history of having to deal with snow covered and open landscapes.
From humble beginnings to a sport recognized world wide
It is often said that cross-country skiing is the single form of skiing that most closely resemble how skis were originally used. Before skiing became a matter of sport and recreation, it was primarily a matter of transportation. In order to cover great distances of snow covered land, skis became a necessity. It was simply a way of life and very important tools of survival. That's why we can trace its origins to the vast region of modern Russia. But skiing as we now know it first began in the countries of Scandinavia. Initially, the military began organizing competitions in order to both improve skiing technique and entertain the troops. This quickly began sparking public interest. And Norway actually became the first country to hold public skiing competitions. This goes as far back as the 18th century.
If you are unfamiliar with cross-country skiing. You will notice that there are mainly two techniques in use. Namely classic and skating. Classic is pretty self explanatory and hints at the use of the regular skiing stride. Skating on the other hand is more reminiscent of ice skating where each foot is used to push forward, resulting in a skating motion. Even though two techniques might not seem much, cross-country skiing is a highly complex event. The athletes have to master technical skill, endurance, the managing of equipment, being able to read the open terrain and having the mental awareness to compete in a harsh environment.
The odds at cross-country skiing and the 2022 Winter Olympics is in the menu.