What is it?
While not as fast-paced as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing still has the excitement and competitiveness that comes with other Winter Olympic events.
As one of the original Winter Olympic sports, cross-country skiing featured in the first-ever Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924 and, true to their roots, you won't find these athletes using lazy ski lifts; they rely on strength and endurance, shifting their weight from right to left to get them uphill, downhill and anywhere else the course takes them.
Several medals are up for grabs across a number of men’s and women’s cross-country skiing competitions. These include sprint, team sprint, classic, skiathlon, relay and mass start.
When is it?
Where is it?
National Cross-Country Center, Zhangjiakou Zone.
Who’s gonna win?
Norwegian athletes have been consistent cross-country ski performers at past Winter Olympics. That will likely remain the case during Beijing 2022. Triple Olympic gold medallist Johannes Høsflot Klæbo followed up his wins in the sprint, 4x10km relay and team sprint at Pyeongchang 2018 by winning gold in all three events at the 2019 World Championships and the 2021 World Championships. Klæbo is a multiple record-holder in the sport.
Also of Norway, Simen Hegstad Krüger won gold alongside Klaebo in Pyeongchang as a member of Norway's 4x10km relay team, as well as a gold in the 30km skiathlon and silver in the 15km freestyle. He also picked up two silvers in the 15km freestyle and 30km skiathlon at the 2021 World Championships.
But Norway is not the only nation to look out for. Four-time Olympic gold medallist and 2018 15km freestyle champion Dario Cologna of Switzerland is a proven winner at the Games, but whether the veteran athlete has what it takes in Beijing is not so certain.
In the women's competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Norway faced competition from neighbouring Sweden. Swedish athlete Charlotte Kalle won four medals in Pyeongchang, including gold in the 15km skiathlon, taking her tally to nine medals.
Kalle is in fact Sweden's most successful female cross-country skier of all time, and, alongside her compatriot Jonna Sundling, who won the sprint and team sprint events at the 2021 World Championships, is among the medal hopefuls in Beijing.
Be under no illusion, Norway and Sweden will be tough to beat.
What about China?
China has athletes competing in all 12 cross-country skiing events.
The sport has grown in popularity over recent years. Thousands of cross-country skiers can be found across the country, with many training in places like Beijing, Xinjiang, Northeast China and elsewhere.
While China might not be in the running for a medal, there is no doubt that having athletes in each one of the cross-country skiing events will further fuel enthusiasm for the sport.
Check out all 15 events in our Beijing 2022 Bluffer's Guide by scanning the QR code:
[Cover image via Weibo/@牡丹江市新闻传播中心]