A look at cross-country skiing at the 2022 Winter Olympics – NBC Chicago

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Cross-country skiing is an endurance sport, with competitors carrying skis and using ski poles to propel themselves over long distances.

Just like a marathon, it is very demanding on the body and requires the use of all muscle groups at the same time.

No one understands how much harder cross-country skiing is than Team USA’s Jessie Diggings, who won the team sprint freestyle event with Kikkan Randall at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, claiming the first gold medal. gold of the United States in this sport. and ending a 42-year podium drought for the Americans.

Randall has since retired, but Diggins will now look to help Team USA begin a medal streak in cross-country skiing at the Beijing Olympics in 2022.

Here’s everything you need to know about cross-country skiing when Diggins and Team USA take part in the Beijing Games:

What are the different cross-country skiing competitions at the Beijing Olympics?

There are 12 cross-country skiing events scheduled for the Beijing 2022 Games: six men’s and six women’s. The men’s competitions include a skiathlon (30 km), an individual free sprint, a 15 km classic, a 4×10 km relay, a classic team sprint and a 50 km free mass start. The women’s competitions are the skiathlon (15 km), the individual freestyle sprint, the 10 km classic, the 4×5 km relay, the classic team sprint and the 30 km freestyle mass start.

The Olympic cross-country skiing events alternate classic and freestyle techniques. For example, the team sprint event in which Diggins won gold at the 2018 Games had a freestyle technique, but this year it will be classic style and at the following Olympics it will be free style again. free. In skiathlon and relay events, both techniques are used, skiing the first half in classic technique and the second in freestyle.

There are also two different types of starts: interval/individual start and mass start. In an interval start, a skier leaves the starting gate every 30 seconds and races against the clock. In a mass start, all skiers start at the same time and race to the finish line.

What is the difference between classic skiing and freestyle skiing?

In the classic technique of cross-country skiing, competitors must keep their skis in narrow parallel tracks. To do this, they use the traditional diagonal stride of the kick and slide.

In freestyle races, there are no restrictions on the placement of skis. With the freestyle technique, also known as skating, the skis are pointed outward and the movements resemble ice skating and in-line skating. It is also the technique that generates faster speeds.

In this clip from the My New Favorite Olympian podcast, American cross-country star Jessie Diggins talks about the difference between weather and climate. Diggins and other Winter Olympians speak out on climate change, a study of which could threaten the viability of future Winter Olympics.

What equipment is used in cross-country skiing?

The most important piece of equipment for cross-country skiing is, of course, the skis.

Cross-country skis are lighter and narrower than those used in downhill skiing and ski jumping. As is the case with most cross-country ski equipment, there are differences between the skis used in classic and freestyle racing. Freestyle skis are shorter and stiffer than classic skis because they need to be able to handle the extra pressure that comes with this style of skiing.

Ski wax also plays a vital role in an athlete’s performance. The formula must accomplish two contradictory tasks: grip the snow on the way up while slipping on the way down. Generally, freestyle racers use glide wax, which decreases friction between skis and snow and improves speed. Classic racers, on the other hand, will apply both glide and kick wax, with the latter increasing the friction between the skis and the snow. Waxes are placed on different parts of classic skis to perform distinct functions, with kick wax helping athletes push on flat surfaces and ski uphill.

Boots worn in cross-country skiing are similar to running shoes, with freestyle boots being stiffer and offering better ankle support than regular boots. An athlete’s boots are only tied to the skis at the toe, leaving the heel free to flex up and down and allowing the skier to propel themselves over the snow.

Finally, there are the two poles, which are made of metal tubing and feature handles and sharp points that grip the snow for traction. Freestyle poles are longer and stiffer than regular poles and generally extend to the lower half of the face. Classic sticks extend to the armpit area.

What is the history of cross-country skiing?

Skis have been around for a long time, but they were first used as a means of transport, mainly during hunting and warfare. The oldest known ski dates from around 2000 BC and was found in the Swedish province of Angermanland.

Thousands of years later, cross-country skiing as a competition first appeared in northern Norway in 1843. The first major innovation in ski equipment came from a lesser Norwegian. a decade later, when competitive skier and skiing pioneer Sondre Norheim invented a heel binding that made it easier to turn.

Cross-country skiing was introduced to the first Winter Games in 1924 and is one of six sports that have been part of every Winter Olympics since. A women’s event was not added to the Olympic program until the 1952 Oslo Games and freestyle racing was introduced at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Which country has the most medals in cross-country skiing?

Norway, the birthplace of modern skiing, has historically dominated cross-country skiing at the Olympics and leads the medal tally with 121. 41 more medals than the nearest nation. Norway, which also has the most gold medals with 47, won seven of 12 gold medals and 14 of 37 medals awarded at the 2018 Games. Sweden is second with 80 medals in total, including 31 gold .

The United States is not in the top 10 in either category, with just one gold medal and two podium finishes overall. Besides Diggins and Randall, Bill Koch is the only other American to win a medal in cross-country skiing. Koch won silver in the men’s 30 kilometers at the 1976 Innsbruck Games.

Who are the most famous cross-country skiers?

The Beijing Olympics will not feature the most decorated Winter Olympian ever after Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen retired after the 2018 Games. Bjørgen won five medals in Pyeongchang and holds a record 15 Winter Olympic medals, including eight gold medals.

But, even without Bjørgen, Norway still boasts many of the sport’s best athletes. Three-time Olympic medalist Therese Johaug will return to the Games after a doping ban prevented her from competing in 2018. And on the men’s side, three-time gold medalist Johannes Hoesflot Klaeb and two-time gold medalist Simen Hegstad Krüger both look set for more podium finishes.

For Team USA, Diggins, 30, will make his third Olympic appearance and will likely compete in all six events.

Olympic cross-country skier Jessie Diggins talks about the importance of her teammates and remembers to always have fun while competing at the highest level.

In 2021, Diggins became the first North American to win the Tour de Ski and the first American to win the overall World Cup title.

Nine-time Swedish medalist Charlotte Kalla plans to be one of Johaug and Diggins’ toughest competitors.

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