The women’s cross-country skiathlon finish line. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty ImagesWhen I saw this photograph at first on The Guardian website, I thought there had been a terrible tragedy. But no, it’s just the aftermath of the Cross-country skiathlon.
It took a while to work out what that actually is – the Internet is awash at the moment with people who understand winter sports so the ‘Snow for Dummies’ sites have been pushed into the background.
Anyway, it turns out to get this exhausted all you have to do is race 15 km across the country, the first 7.5 using classical technique, and the remainder using free technique. They set up special boxes to change over the equipment which seems to be quite a complex undertaking.
The BBC sports pages (as always with big tournaments) came to the rescue then with words like gruelling and exhausting just in case you’d missed that from the bare descriptions. So the two techniques involved according to the Beeb are: ‘classic, which involves skiing along pre-set parallel tracks, and freestyle, which closely resembles the motions of ice skating.”
Considering how hard I’ve found it the few times I’ve just run in light snow, we will definitely be leaving this one to the experts.