Cross-country skiing

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Cross-country skiers ( skating ) near Einsiedeln
Cross-country skiing for relaxation and recreation

Cross-country skiing is a type of skiing as well as a Nordic winter sport in which one not only glides downhill on skis , but also moves horizontally or uphill on the snow through recoil . Most of the time, specially prepared trails are used.

Cross-country skiing is considered a sport that is recommended for health, as almost all muscle groups are exercised. Sports related to cross-country skiing are biathlon , Nordic combined , ski orienteering , roller skiing , Nordic blading and Nordic walking .

As a competitive sport , cross-country skiing is very popular with spectators. The most important competitions in cross-country skiing are organized by the world association FIS . In popular sport, there is a continuum of different forms of exercise, ranging from sprinting or endurance running based on competitive sports to leisurely hiking or walking through snow-covered winter landscapes.


Walking on devices that prevented people from sinking into the snow, for example when hunting, had already been invented by the people of primitive society. There are also references to the use of skis among the ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese. - The name Ski is probably derived from SCHEIT. The Norwegians even had gods for walkers responsible were - Ull and Skadi (also known as Ondurdis = goddess of skiing). During excavations in Sweden, an Urski - 1.10 m long, 20 cm wide - was found dating from 2,500 BC. BC. Archaeological investigations in the far north of Europe, among the Sámi , also found sliding boards made of pine wood that are around 4,000 years old. In addition to the well-known board-like parallel skis, round and oval snow tires have also developed, which are still in use by Nordic peoples and are now also used as new winter sports equipment.

In Norway, the first cross-country skiing competitions were recorded as endurance runs in 1843 . The first major competition took place in 1892 at Holmenkollen in Oslo . In Central Europe, skiing was only known after 1870, when Norwegian students brought their skis to Germany. The pioneers of German skiing include the diplomat Raymond Pilet (1889), Fritz Breuer from the Black Forest (1891), who ran with his friend's snowshoes (ship's doctor Tholus), which he built based on a sample pair from Lapland , and the Ullrichs family of foresters from the Resin . The first ski club in Germany was founded in Todtnau in 1891 ; In 1900 the day of the championship took place for Germany with a 23 km endurance run (which, however, a Norwegian won) and a jump run. At the instigation of the fast-growing Black Forest Ski Club , the first ski jump was built around 1900 and the German Ski Association was founded in Munich in 1905 . In 1893, a woman took part for the first time in an international event, a Norwegian freestyle run (Mizzi Angerer from Austria, in a long tweed skirt). She won the run and received the Nansen Medal for it .

Cross-country skiing has been an integral part of the Olympic program since the 1924 Winter Olympics . There have also been competitions for women there since 1952 . The International Ski Federation (FIS) was founded on February 2, 1924 in Chamonix on the occasion of the international winter sports week (forerunner of the Olympic Winter Games) and is based in Oberhofen , Switzerland ; he coordinates all skiing activities. - In 1926 Lahti hosted the first official world championships, which were then called rendez-vous races .

Classic cross-country ski run with skating stripes

For a long time, parallel skiing ( diagonal step with double-pole use ) was the only form of cross-country skiing that was recognized in competition. At the end of the 1970s, a new technique of locomotion, skating, developed . This technique was already described in detail in the ski literature of the 1930s, but could only rarely be used on hard to icy snow cover without machine cross-country ski trail preparation. After a polemic about the admissibility of the faster skating technique in competition, the International Ski Federation first stipulated that at least one ski had to remain on the trail. This led to the use of the half- skate step , which the Finn Pauli Siitonen used systematically and successfully. Therefore, Siitonen is often mistakenly attributed the invention of skating. It was not until 1986 that the world association decided to allow skating and to hold competitions either in the classic style , with parallel ski guidance in a groomed trail , or in the free style (in the faster skating technique). In biathlon , the world association IBU has only held competitions in free style since 1985.

While countries such as Italy , France , Austria or Switzerland quickly adopted skating as an innovation and adapted the cross-country ski trails for it, in the mid-1990s there was a sign "No skating step prohibited" on many German cross-country ski runs . In Scandinavia , skating is hardly used in popular sport even today (around 2010).

Cross-country skiing is traditionally popular especially in Northern Europe and the Alpine countries, but also in Poland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Baltic States, as well as outside Europe in Kazakhstan, China, Japan and Korea. Cross-country skiing also has a long tradition in Canada and the USA, although it has not become really popular.


Main article: Cross-country skiing

Standard equipment for cross-country skiing includes a pair of cross-country skis, a pair of cross-country poles and a pair of cross-country boots.


Depending on the cross-country skiing technique, specialized cross-country skis are used. The skis basically have an upwardly curved tip at the front and are curved upward in the middle (ski tension). One distinguishes between:

  • In classic cross-country skis , the middle area is the so-called climbing zone. This part sticks to the snow when it comes into contact, so that an imprint to the rear is possible. A distinction is made between “Wax” and “Nowax” skis (for waxing see below).
  • Skating skis are shorter and more easily curved than classic cross-country skis. They have no climbing zone.
  • Combination skis are aimed at amateurs who want to switch between skating and classic style; A good compromise between the two requirements is only possible with waxed skis.
  • Nordic Cruising was created at the beginning of the 21st century to build on the success of Nordic Walking . With wider and shorter skis, beginners should be made easier to get started. The design of the ski should ensure greater maneuverability and stability. The advantage of this type of ski is that the skis can be used both on and off the track.
  • Backcountry is the new German term for skis that are also or exclusively used for cross-country hiking off the trail.

Binding and shoes

Ski bindings and boots

There are several competing solutions for ski bindings. The choice of binding limits you when buying shoes; when buying a complete set of equipment, it is best to start by trying on shoes.

For classic skis in the amateur area, the systems "SNS" ( Salomon Nordic System ) from Salomon and "NNN" ( New Nordic Norm ) from Rottefella are predominant, see cross-country ski bindings .

Skating shoes have a rigid sole and a laterally stabilized shaft. They surround the ankle a little higher so that it is better supported when moving sideways.


The poles are much longer and thinner than for downhill skis, as you push yourself backwards at an angle.

To grow

With wax skis, the climbing zone must be provided with adhesive wax before use. The wax to be used depends on the current snow properties (snow type, temperature, humidity). Nowax skis have mechanical (scales, crowns, skin) or chemical (chemoski) climbing aids in the climbing zone.

Since better gliding properties are achieved through individual waxing, wax skis are used in competitive sports, except in difficult snow conditions, especially in wet fresh snow at temperatures around 0 ° C.

In Germany, the easy-care Nowax versions dominate the leisure sector; wax skis are much more common in France.

Basically, the sliding zone of all skis should be treated with sliding wax to protect the base from corrosion and to achieve optimal sliding properties.

Cross-country skiing techniques

Diagonal step

Classic style

The main modes of transport in the classic style are:

Skating (Free Style)

The most important basic elements of the skating technique are the skating step and the double stick push. A distinction is made between the following forms of movement:

For historical reasons there is also the Siitonen step , also called Finnstep or half-skating step.

Downhill, braking and changing direction

Skier in downhill position

In addition to the locomotion techniques already mentioned, there are the following techniques that are mainly used when descending:

  • Plow - A-shaped ski
  • Plow bow
  • Bow kicking
  • Archery
  • Swing forms
  • Stop swing
  • Stick lever brake - The sticks are clawed into the snow by ball pressure or the sticks are held between the legs and then pulled towards the body.
  • Telemark - kneeling driving style
  • Waving (as in downhill skiing by shifting your weight)


World cup

Every year in the winter season from October to March, the cross-country skiing world cup is held for men and women . The FIS point system determines the overall World Cup ranking.

The Nordic World Ski Championships take place every two years , with cross-country skiing, Nordic combined and ski jumping .


At the Olympic Games and World Championships, there are 6 cross-country skiing competitions for men and women. The short distances, including sprint (between 1 km and 1.5 km in length) and team sprint (2 runners per nation run alternately, each must complete 3 laps) and endurance courses. These are the 15 km in the interval start (i.e. the runners start every 30 seconds), the double pursuit over 15 km classic and 15 km skating, the relay over 4 × 10 km and the 50 km mass start in the men. The women run 10 km interval start, a total of 15 km double pursuit, 4 × 5 km relay and finally the 30 km mass start. This so-called "long edge" was held in a single start until a few years ago, but it has been replaced by the clearer and more spectator-friendly mass start (i.e. all start at the same time). The style over 15 km and 50 km (or 10 km and 30 km) changes from major event to major event, e.g. For example, the 50 km at the 2005 World Cup in Oberstdorf (winner: Frode Estil / NOR), at the 2006 Olympics in Turin in free style (winner: Giorgio Di Centa / ITA) and in 2007 at the World Cup in Sapporo again in a classic way (Winner: Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset / NOR).

Olympic history

With cross-country runs over 18 km and 50 km, this discipline was already Olympic at the first official Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924 . The men's 18-km run first became the 15-km run ( 1956 ) and then in 1992 the 10-km run in a special form. 30 km have also been run since Cortina d'Ampezzo and the 4 × 10 km relay since Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936 .

The women have been involved since Oslo 1952 (only 10 km), run 5 km since Innsbruck 1964 , 20 and 30 km respectively since 1984/1992 and the 4 × 5 km relay since 1956.

In Albertville 1992, combined races were held for both sexes, which were varied again from Lillehammer 1994 . The 10 km run / women 5 km, which are specially assessed with medals, was followed by a 10 km run (also women) with a so-called "chase start".

In Salt Lake City 2002 there were several changes: In freestyle an additional sprint (for men and women); the interval start was introduced for the men's classic 30 kilometers and the women's classic 15 kilometers; the men's hunting race was shortened to 10 kilometers and that of women to 5 kilometers; finally, 15 kilometers classic for men and 10 kilometers classic for women were introduced as new competition disciplines.

Hunting races, double pursuits, duathlons, skiathlons

A special feature is the so-called double pursuit, in which first a distance (men 15 km, women 7.5 km) is run in the classic way, then the skis are changed in a so-called transition area and the following distance (again men 15 km, women 7 , 5 km) is completed in skating style. The winner is the one who crosses the finish line first at the end of the 30 km or 15 km.

The winner was previously determined by two races on consecutive days. On the second day the runners started in the order and with the time interval of the first run; the winner of the first day started first and was “chased” by the pursuers. The winner of the hunting race was the one who crossed the finish line first on the second day. The mode was based on the Gundersen method in the Nordic combination .

Since 2003, instead of the hunting race, the skiathlon has been established, in which the two runs follow one another directly (double pursuit). The runners take to the track in a classic mass start; equipment and running technique are changed halfway through the race; the second part is done in free style. Current world champions in this discipline are Therese Johaug (Norway) and Sjur Røthe (Norway) ( WM 2019 in Seefeld ).

Fun runs

Mass start at the Wasalauf

In popular sport , some have fun runs firmly established, such. B. the Wasalauf in Sweden , the Engadin Skimarathon in Switzerland , the Transjurassienne in the French Jura and the König-Ludwig-Lauf in Oberammergau . The most important runs are part of the Worldloppet series. "Regional cups" are also held in snowy regions. These fun run racing series run throughout the winter season, and everyone can take part even without a club membership.

Training in cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is one of the sports with the highest oxygen turnover (VO2max) due to the use of legs and arms. Since the maximum aerobic endurance as well as the maximum strength decrease significantly after 30 days without appropriate training, year-round endurance and strength training is required to ensure that the essential properties are maintained. The optimal technique is also lost if it is not trained at the level of appropriate strength and endurance development. As a result, methods of block training ( block periodization ) have become established in recent years , that is, it is ensured all year round that at least a basic level of fitness is available.


Cross-country skiing device on a snow groomer
Typical trail map of a small ski resort with one-way regulation

Until well into the 20th century, cross-country ski trails were created exclusively by cross-country skiers, who were the first to leave a trail behind them when they walked through untouched fresh snow. Even today there are regionally known cross-country trails that are regularly created in this way by volunteers.

In winter sports resorts, on the other hand, trails are usually groomed mechanically by a snow groomer . For the classic style, ruts are pressed into the snow ; For the skating technique , a strip of snow several meters wide is rolled flat.

Winter sports resorts usually create several cross-country trails of different lengths and levels of difficulty. In many areas there is a one-way regulation. Entering cross-country trails on foot is usually prohibited. In a number of countries, including Germany, fees may be charged for the use of cross-country trails.

In some areas, the cross-country ski trails of neighboring ski resorts are connected to cross-local skiing trails , for example the Grande Traversée du Jura or the Schonach – Belchen long-distance skiing trail .

As part of SwitzerlandMobility , the cross-country trails in Switzerland were uniformly marked.

Cross-country ("backcountry")

Ski hikers in Norway

To the extent that winter sports resorts reliably created cross-country trails, the material also developed into the long and narrow classic cross-country skis that are customary today, with which one can optimally glide in the cross-country ski run. In many countries, the most original form of cross-country skiing, cross-country running through untracked terrain, was almost completely forgotten. With cross-country skis you can hardly move through deep snow because you sink in too much and because you can hardly steer in sloping terrain. You can only make good progress on field and forest paths in the tracks of motorized vehicles.

Cross-country skiing is widespread in Scandinavia and the Czech Republic. It is also better known in France ( Randonnée nordique ) than in Germany. Compared to cross-country skiing, you need shorter, wider skis, preferably with steel edges. Such skis are produced by Hagan, Madshus, Åsnes, Fischer and Salomon, as well as by Czech manufacturers; in Germany they are sold under the name "backcountry", if at all.

Three systems compete with each other as bindings for cross-country cross-country skis, the boots of which are not interchangeable:

  • Nordic-Norm bindings, NN for short, are the classic bindings that are still used today by the majority of skiers in Scandinavia; there are models with and without a cable pull around the heel
  • SNS-BC bindings are a wider variant of the SNS binding with a harder flexor
  • NNN-BC bindings are a variant of the NNN bindings with a more massive metal pin and a slightly harder flexor

Alternatively, there is a strap binding (Hagan), in which any winter boot with a flexible sole is strapped onto a movable support plate.


  • Kuno Hottenrott, Veit Urban: The big book about cross-country skiing . Meyer & Meyer Verlag, Aachen 2004. ISBN 3-89124-992-6
  • Ulrich Wenger, Franz Wöllzenmüller: Cross-country skiing: classic technique and skating . sportinform Verlag, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-8254-0423-4
  • Egon Theiner, Chris Karl: Cross-country skiing: history, culture, practice . Verlag Die Werkstatt, Göttingen 2002, ISBN 3-89533-371-9

Web links

Commons : Cross-country skiing  album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Website Skiclub Todtnau: The Beginnings of Skiing ( Memento of the original from April 25, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ; accessed on January 29, 2015. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Cross-country skiing in Nordic Sports Magazin , (2002) 02, pp. 48–54: Skistory Feldberg
  3. ^ Arnold Fanck: The Skier's picture book , Gebr. Enoch Verlag, Hamburg, 1932.
  4. ^ T. Ducia, Kurt Reinl: Ski d'aujourd'hui , Verlag Georges Marcq, Paris, 1935.
  5. See Traian Grigorian, Nordic Cruising - A new trend is born - Reise - Sü
  6. Arnd Krüger : How does block periodization work? Learning Curves and Super Compensation: Special Features of Block Periodization. In: Fd Snow 32 (2014), pp. 2, 22-33.
  7. Homepage: SwitzerlandMobility Winter