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Cross Country Skiing

Cross Country Skiing

Alongside Speed Skating, Cross Country Skiing is one of only two remaining sports that have been a part of every Winter Olympic Games. The sport has long been dominated by the Scandinavian nations and Russia but the Australian contingent are on the rise and will be pushing for our strongest Games results ever in PyeongChang. 

Athletes to watch: Brother and sister duo Callum and Aimee Watson made history in Sochi by becoming the first Australian siblings to compete in cross country at the same Olympic Games and they will be aiming to do it again in PyeongChang. Their Sochi teammate Phil Bellingham is continuing to improve, securing some of the best results of his career in early 2017 as the Sprint specialist aims for a top 30 finish in the event in PyeongChang. Barbara Jezserek will be aiming for her third Olympic appearance having previously competed in 2010 and 2014 for Slovenia while Jessica Yeaton had her best season to date which included a 33rd place finish at the 2017 World Championships. Paul Kovacs will be pushing for a debut Olympic berth while the future of the sport in Australia looks bright with the likes of young guns Katerina Paul and Casey Wright pushing up the ranks. 

Qualification, Nomination & Selection

Australia will be hoping to qualify two men and three women Cross Country Skiing at PyeongChang 2018. Qualification will be based on the Olympic FIS points list which will be finalised on January 22, 2018. For the full details on qualification click here>>> 

If an athlete has qualified then they will be eligible to be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection. For the full details on nomination to the Australian Olympic Winter Team click here>>>

Once nominated the AOC’s Selection Committee will then make the final decision on the athlete’s selection to the Team for PyeongChang 2018. 

Competition Format & Events

Skiathlon (30km men, 15km women) (Classic and Freestyle)
The Skiathlon combines both Classic and Freestyle techniques into the one mass start race. The first half of the race (7.5 km for women and 15 km for men) is completed with Classic technique and equipment. Athletes then use dedicated changing boxes in the stadium to switch skis and poles. The second half of the race is raced using Freestyle technique, with the first person across the line the winner. The Skiathlon is often a very tactical race due to the two techniques and short laps (2.5km for women and 3.75km for men).

Individual Sprint Classic (1.5km men, 1.4km women)
The Individual Sprint competition consists of a qualification round and three final rounds. First competitors ski a time trial in 15-second intervals, with the fastest 30 skiers advancing to the finals. The quarter-final, semi-final, and final have six skiers in each heat. The top two competitors from each heat advance automatically to the next round, with an additional two athletes (known as "lucky losers") also advancing on time. Sprint events are high speed and very tactical.

Freestyle Interval Start (15km men, 10km women)
The 10km and 15km Interval Start races are time trials against the clock, with the winner being the competitor with the quickest time. Competitors start every 30 seconds, with the best-ranked skiers starting at the end. Coaches give athletes feedback on their time (known as "splits") during the race, so skiers starting later have more information on their performance.

Relay (4x10km men, 4x5km women) (Classic and Freestyle)
Each team has four skiers, each of whom skis one of the four 5km (women) or 10km (men) relay legs. The first two legs of the relay are skied in Classic style and the final two are Freestyle. The relay is hotly contested by the top nations, with coaches selecting athletes for each leg based on their strengths and consideration of the tactics of other nations.

Team Sprint Free (2 x 3 x 1.5km men, 1.4km women)
The Team Sprint competition consists of two semi-final heats of 10-15 teams each and a final heat of 10 teams. Each team has two skiers, who alternate skiing the sprint course three times each for a total of six laps, exchanging between laps by physically touching their teammate. The top three teams from each heat automatically advance to the final, with the next four fastest teams across both heats also progressing. The winning team is the first team to cross the finish line after the completion of all six laps.

Mass Start Classic (50km men, 30km women)
The Mass Start is the longest event on the cross country program. Competitors all start together, lined up in rows in an arrow formation. The first competitor across the finish line wins the race. It is permitted to exchange skis during the competition, but only a limited number of times in dedicated exchange boxes in the stadium. Skiers change skis if snow conditions change during the race or for faster skis particularly when the snow is dirty.


Australia and Olympic Cross Country Skiing

Bruce Haslingden and Cedric Sloan were Australia’s first cross country representatives at an Olympic Winter Games. They participated in the 18km and 50km events at the 1952 Games in Oslo. Neither of them finished the gruelling 50km event and placed 74th and 75th respectively in the 18km event.

Three Australian athletes have placed in the 30-40th place range in individual events including Australia’s first female competitor Colleen Bolton. Bolton competed in the 5km classic and the 10km classic at the Lake Placid Games in 1980 placing 36th and 35th respectively.

It was another 26 years before two more Australian women, Esther Bottomley and Clare-Louise Brumley competed at the Torino Games. They were also joined by Paul Murray. Murray and Bottomley continued their Olympic careers in Vancouver in 2010 along with teammate Ben Sim.

The Sochi 2014 Games saw Bottomley join Anthony Evans (1992, 1994, 1998) as Australia’s only three-time Cross Country Skiing Olympians. She was joined on the Russian slopes by brother and sister duo Aimee and Callum Watson as well as Phil Bellingham.  

Pre-PyeongChang AUS Tally

- Gold
- Silver
- Bronze

Fast Facts

Distant events await Aussie cross country team in Toblach 14 December 2017 (AEDT)

Following some promising performances at the opening World Cup event in Davos, Australia’s cross country skiing team have arrived in Toblach for the second and final World Cup before the new year.


World Cup season underway for cross country crew 11 December 2017 (AEDT)

Australia’s cross country skiing contingent have opened their World Cup campaign with some solid performances in Davos, Switzerland.


Cross country crew hits World Cup circuit 8 December 2017 (AEDT)

A strong lead-up has Australia’s cross-country team primed for some positive performances at this weekend’s opening World Cup event in Davos, Switzerland.


Yeaton claims Sprint victory as Aussie team perform strongly in Europe 4 December 2017 (AEDT)

Jessica Yeaton has started off her season in style with a victory in the Sprint event at the Swiss Championships in Goms.


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Cross country season to heat up in Europe 1 December 2017 (AEDT)

Australia’s leading cross country skiers hit the snow around Europe this weekend as the 2017/18 season begins to heat up.


PyeongChang 2018 countdown hits 100 days to go 1 November 2017 (AEDT)

Today marks 100 days to go until a team of approximately 50 Australian athletes will take on the world’s best on ice and snow as athletes donning the green and gold look to build on a strong past 12 months


Jess's blog - On the trail to PyeongChang 26 October 2017 (AEDT) | Jessica Yeaton

I’m Jessica Yeaton - a cross-country skier originally from Perth.


Bellingham narrowing in on second Winter Olympics 15 October 2017 (AEDT)

With a couple of months back on home snow and the experience of an Olympic Games already under his belt Phil Bellingham is ready to make his run towards PyeongChang 2018


Strong southern season has Barbski primed for best Olympic result 9 October 2017 (AEDT)

She loves a BBQ, can handle Vegemite and now Barbara ‘Barbski’ Jezersek is hoping her solid southern winter season will help the Slovenia-born skier secure some strong results in the green and gold when she soon heads north.


Strong southern winter has Kovacs edging towards PyeongChang goal 26 September 2017 (AEDT)

He went close to qualifying for Sochi but now Paul Kovacs believes he is the best position of his career to push for a debut Olympic berth.


Bellingham and Jezersek take out titles 11 September 2017 (AEDT)

PyeongChang 2018 hopefuls Phil Bellingham and Barbara Jezersek have claimed the overall Australian-New Zealand Cup titles after the final events over the weekend.


Bellingham goes close in NZ Winter Games Sprint 8 September 2017 (AEDT)

Aussie Phil Belligham has secured Australia's best finish in the Classic Sprint events at the NZ Winter Games finishing just off the podium in fourth.


Jezersek claims NZ Winter Games silver 7 September 2017 (AEDT)

Australia’s Barbara Jezersek has continued her strong run of form by claiming 5km Freestyle silver at the opening cross country event of the NZ Winter Games.


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Jezersek claims Kangaroo Hoppet while Bellingham and Watson secure minor placings 28 August 2017 (AEDT)

Perfect snow conditions and bluebird weather saw the hosting of 27th Kangaroo Hoppet at Falls Creek over the weekend.


Jezersek and Bellingham lead the charge at Falls Creek 22 August 2017 (AEDT)

Barbara Jezersek and Phil Bellingham have dominated the second half of the Cross Country Skiing Australian National Championships after they topped the podium on both days of the event.


Paul looking to continue strong form at Falls Creek 18 August 2017 (AEDT)

The nation’s leading cross country skiers will be at it again this weekend as they fight it out at the Australian Open Championships in Falls Creek.


Five things you didn't know about: Casey Wright 11 August 2017 (AEDT)

Cross country skier Casey Wright is aiming to make her Olympic debut at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games and is working tirelessly towards that goal.


PyeongChang hopefuls on song at Australian Championships 25 July 2017 (AEDT)

There was exciting racing at Perisher this weekend with the opening races of the 2017 Australian Championship featuring four different winners.


Australian Olympic Winter Team website launched as countdown hits 200 days to go 24 July 2017 (AEDT)

There are just 200 days to go until Australia’s finest winter athletes hit the ice and snow for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games