Women's Skiathlon
Cross Country in Olympic Games

Olympic Games all-time champions
Published: 2024-04-27
Cite: Sportsencyclo (2024). Women's Skiathlon - Cross Country in Olympic Games. https://www.olympiandatabase.com/index.php?id=22988&L=1

Skiathlon is a competition in cross country skiing combining the two skiing techniques, the classical style and the free style. The discipline has changed its name since its Olympic debut in 1992 from "combined" to "skiathlon".

Format changes since the introduction

The combined competition was introduced at the Winter Olympics in Albertville in 1992. Here the women skied the normal 5 km event in classical style as a separate competition where medals were awarded to the winners as usual. Two days later they skied a 10 km race in free style as a pursuit race where the cross country skiers began the pursuit with time differences corresponding to the result from the 5 km classical event. In this way it was the gold winner, then the silver medalist etc. from the 5 km classical who started out first and were pursued by the remaining skiers [1].

In Albertville 1992 IOC (the International Olympic Committee) called the event "Combined 5 km + 10 km pursuit". Men's combined event format was similar, but in longer distances, 10 km classical and 15 km free pursuit.

At the following Winter Games in Lillehammer in 1994 and in Nagano in 1998 both women's and men's combined competitions had the same format and the same distances as in Albertville in 1992.

The format of the combined competitions was changed at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002, where the normal short cross country event was no longer used as a starting point for the pursuit. Now instead, the combined competitions consisted of two separate races on the same day. In the morning women skied a 5 km classical race and in the afternoon a 5 km free style race as a pursuit event where the cross country skiers started the pursuit in accordance with the time differences from the morning's classical race. Men skied after the same format 10 km classical and 10 km free style.

At the Winter Olympics in Torino in 2006 the combined competition again had a revised format, which was then also used in the following four Winter Games (Vancouver in 2010, Sochi in 2014, PyeongChang in 2018 and Beijing in 2022). The combined competition was now a single race with a mass start, where the female skiers first raced 7,5 km classical style. Subsequently the skiers had a short stop while the clock was still running to change skis for a further 7.5 km free style race [2].

In 2006 the IOC called the women's event "Skiathlon (7,5 km + 7,5 km)" but after finding its more lasting format the name of the competition today is just “Skiathlon”.

Top athletes in the event

In women's combined competitions Lyubov Yegorova won the first two contests in the event, in 1992 as a representative of EUN, the Unified Team of the former Soviet States, and in 1994 for Russia. Russia also won the discipline in 1998 with Larissa Lazutina.

Another two time gold medalist in the discipline is Norwegian Marit Bjørgen who became the Olympic champion in skiathlon in both 2010 and 2014. Therese Johaug won a third gold medal for Norway in the discipline in 2022.

Norway and Russia have dominated the women's skiathlon discipline with three gold medals each. The three remaining competitions in the discipline so far have been won by athletes from Canada, Estonia and Sweden.

Resources

[1] Olympedia.org. 5/10 kilometres Pursuit, Women. Last visited 2024-05-26.
[2] Olympedia.org. 15 kilometres Skiathlon, Women. Last visited 2024-05-26.
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