Skiing Glossary

It was pointed out to me that not everyone reading this site might be familiar with the lingo of international ski racing.  So if you don’t follow ski racing closely and various terms or acronyms seem confusing, hopefully this page will serve as a quick reference guide.

  • Major Events
    • Olympics (OWG)
    • World Ski Championships (WSC)
      • Organized by FIS, held every two years staggered to not overlap with Olympics
    • World Cup (WC)
      • Race series organized by FIS, typically consisting of ~18-20 sprint and distance races.
  • Minor Events
    • OPA Cup
      • Sort of the “minor leagues” of World Cup ski racing.
    • World Junior Championships (WJC) and U23’s
      • International events for younger athletes; held once a year.
    • Scandinavian Cup (SC)
    • Continental Cup (CC)
    • National Championships (NC)
      • Just refers to a particular nation’s national championships.
    • FIS race (FIS)
      • Any FIS sanctioned race
  • Race Types
    • Distance
      • Old time ski racing.  Various formats ranging in length from 5km to over 50km; includes mass starts (everyone starts at once), interval starts (starting at set intervals, racing against the clock) and…
      • Pursuits
        • Originally, these events consisted of two separate races whose results were combined.  Typically this meant an interval start classic race on one day, followed by a skate race on a subsequent day.  For the skate race, the athletes would start in the order they finished in the classic race.  Then the first person across the finish line would be the winner of the combined, “pursuit” event.  This is often referred to as a “pursuit with a break”.
        • Nowadays we’ve transitioned to a “continuous” pursuit format, where the athletes all start together (mass start).  They’ll ski the first half of the race using the classic technique and then switch equipment halfway through and skate the second half.  This is usually referred to as a “pursuit without a break”.
    • Sprint
      • Very short races (<2km)
      • Consist of a preliminary (qualification) round that is simply an interval start race on the short sprint course.  The top 30 in qualification move on to elimination style mass start heats.  The specific format and organization of the qualification process and heats has changed over time, but that’s the basic idea.
    • Stage
      • FIS has been experimenting with new race formats a lot in the past 10-15 years.  The latest is a stage race type format, roughly modelled after cycling.  Recently, they have been incorporated into the World Cup schedule, but they haven’t been a part of the Olympics yet.
  • FIS points
  • World Cup Points
    • Your standard 100 points for 1st, 80 for 2nd, 60 for 3rd, down to 1 point for 30th, type point system.  Used to select the “Overall World Cup” champion, and also winners in the separate categories of Sprint and Distance events.

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