The Olympics is the premier stage for cross country ski racers. Cross country skiers competed at the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, in 1924, in 18-kilometer and 50-kilometer races for men. Women cross country skiers made their debut at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games in Oslo. The cross country skiing technique known as skating or free technique became a separate Olympic competitive discipline at the Calgary 1988 Winter Games. Cross country is organized into two techniques: classical, where the skis move parallel to each other through machine-groomed tracks in the snow, and free technique where skiers propel themselves in a manner similar to speed skating, pushing off with the edge of their skis. Classic technique is the original, ancient method of skiing. Free technique is more modern, having been pioneered by U.S. Ski Team member Bill Koch in the early ’80s, and is slightly faster than classical – almost 10% faster on average. Bill Koch used the free technique to propel himself to the overall World Cup title in 1982, and remains the only American ski racer to win not only that title, but also an Olympic medal (silver, 1976) and a World Championship medal (bronze, 1982).
In Olympic cross country skiing, women compete in individual sprint, team sprint, 10 km individual start, 15 km pursuit, 30 km mass start and the 4×5-km relay. Men compete in individual sprint, team sprint, 15 km individual start, 30 km pursuit, 50 km mass start and the 4×10 km relay. The technique used (classical versus free) in the 10 and 15 km individual start, individual sprint, team sprint and mass start alternates with each cycle of Olympic Games.
The 2010 Olympics were in Vancouver, Canada. The 2014 Olympics are in Sochi, Russia