The lowdown on... cross-country cross

Five things you need to know about the event that made its YOG debut in Lillehammer…

Picture by IOC

What is it?

Cross-country cross made its international debut at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016. This innovative cross-country skiing event covers a similar distance to a sprint event, but the course features several technical aspects such as jumps, slalom gates and turns to increase the difficulty level. 

How does it work?

Competitors, skiing freestyle and departing every 10 to 30 seconds, start with individual time trials. The quickest 30 then move on to three semi-finals of 10 athletes each, and the first two of those plus the next four fastest finishers qualify for the final, in which all 10 participants set off at the same time.

Who won in Lillehammer?

Sweden’s Moa Lundgren comfortably won the women’s race ahead of her compatriot Johanna Hagström and France’s Laura Chamiot-Maitral, while Republic of Korea’s Magnus Kim proved similarly dominant in the men’s race, winning gold ahead of Norway’s Thomas Helland Larsen and Finland’s Lauri Manilla.

What did the athletes think of the event?

After winning gold, Lundgren said: “It’s really fun because it’s something new, something different, otherwise you just go into the woods and come back. This is a little bit more fun, to do something like ski and jump.”

Could we see it at senior level?

The format proved so popular in Lillehammer that there is talk of bringing the event to the FIS World Cup circuit. "Countries like Switzerland, France, Germany and Canada are taking a closer look at cross-country cross now," said FIS cross country committee chair Vegard Ulvang last year. "They believe it is a good way to learn technique and cross-country skiing, and there is no doubt that there will be a proposal to get this into the World Cup in one form or another.”