Ski Orienteering

Ski orienteering is a cross-country endurance winter sport. Similar to the orienteering disciplines practised in the summer season, ski orienteering requires an extremely high level of both physical and mental fitness. An elite level ski-orienteer needs excellent skiing and map reading skills - and the ability to combine those two. The athlete has to take hundreds of route choice decisions at high speed during every race.

The prepared ski tracks are of various quality. Throughout the competition the ski orienteer has to make decisions about which route is the fastest between the controls. The route choice is made on the basis of the quality of the ski tracks, gradient and distance, all of which can be read from the map.

In respect of physical condition, ski orienteering is comparable with marathon running or cross-country skiing. To be successful in ski orienteering, the athlete must master all skiing techniques, classical and free technique as well as all general downhill and turning techniques.

World Championships in ski orienteering are held every even numbered year, and the World Cup is organised in uneven numbered years. The programme includes competitions in long distance or medium distance, short or super-sprint distance, and relay for both women and men.

Having its origins in the 1890s, ski orienteering is a sport with long traditions. Ski orienteering became a recognized Olympic sport in 1949.


RACING EQUIPMENT: Ski orienteers use the same kind of racing skis, ski poles, suits, boots and bindings as cross-country skiers.

MAP HOLDER: A specially designed map holder attached to the chest makes it possible to view the map at competition speed while skiing at full speed.

MAP: The map provided by the organiser shows the control points which must be visited. The map is designed to give all the information the competitor needs in order to decide which route is the fastest, such as the quality of the tracks, gradient and distance.

COMPASS: The compass is attached to the map holder or to the skier's arm.

CONTROL CARD: A control card is attached to the competitor's arm. At each control, the competitor punches the card as proof of having visited that control.