Cross-Country Skiing 101: Rules

A cross-country skier competes during the Men's 50km Mass Start Classic on day 15 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Alpensia Cross-Country Centre on Feb. 24, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Getty Images, 2018 Getty Images)

Classical Technique Violations

In order to preserve the integrity of a classical cross-country ski race, officials are spread across the race course looking for technique violations.

Violations commonly occur in the following situations: 

On the corners: If tracks exist on a corner, racers must stay within those tracks by using classical technique. If no track exists on a corner, racers are allowed to use a turning technique by pushing off the inside of one ski to complete the turn. Sections of the course where a turning technique is allowed are marked for the racers.

Switching tracks: Changing tracks in the middle of the race is legal. A cross-country racer will step from one set of tracks to another in attempt to improve their position. If a racer changes tracks repeatedly, especially on hills where the steps can give them more power to ski the incline, they will be assessed a violation. 

Herringbone technique: Stomping up hills with skis in a V-pattern, known as herringbone technique, is legal until the skis begin to slide out from under the racer. Once a ski begins to slip, a racer has a tendency to push off from the inside edges. This is considered skating or freestyle technique, and the racer will be assessed a violation. 

Disqualification: If a racer is assessed two violations in a single race, referred to as yellow cards, that skier will be disqualified from the event.