Cross-country skiing is the marathon of the Winter Olympics world.
Originating in the frozen north as an essential part of daily life, it now sits along other Nordic skiing sports such as Nordic combined, ski jumping and biathlon.
A good place to start if you want to get involved with cross-country is with
who have produced a guide on how to begin the sport in England - where the ideal conditions don't often exist. They also offer
GO SKI GO BOARD
roller skiing sessions for those who want learn the basics needed for cross country.
Scotland tends to be a more natural home for cross-country skiers, so check the
Snowsport Scotland slope finder.
Most Britons who aren't doing the sport for a living will almost certainly want to supplement any cross-country skiing with sessions at nearby indoor slopes. Snowsport England provides a
handy club and slope finder,
Why is it good for you?
Be in no doubt about the physical exertion required - cross-country skiing can be punishing. You will need to quickly develop your balance and coordination to pick up the sport and make the most of it.
To start with you need only venture out for a few hundred metres at a time, but committed amateurs will routinely ski for five kilometres or more, and elite skiers go for 50km at a time at the Olympics. Those distances require phenomenal reserves of energy alongside mental stamina and years of acquired muscle memory.
Norwegian army units were skiing for sport as early as the 18th Century and this soon spread to the rest of the country, with the first recorded race taking place in 1842.
Men's cross-country skiing was first featured at the original Winter Olympics of 1924. The women's version was introduced ahead of the Oslo Games in 1952.