Ski Orienteering is an endurance winter sport combining navigation and cross-country skiing across a rough terrain using prepared cross-country ski tracks. A ski orienteer combines high physical endurance and strength, excellent technical skiing skills and the ability to choose the best routes.
Ski orienteering events are designed to test both athletes’ physical strength and navigation skills. Ski orienteers use a map to navigate in a dense network of ski trail and to visit control points in right order. Route choices are made on the basis of the quality of the ski tracks, gradient and distance, all of which can be read from the map.
Ski orienteering is time-measured and objective – the fastest time wins. An electronic card verifies that the athlete has visited all control points in the right order.
Ski orienteering is mentally and physically challenging. The sport demands and develops mathematical and spatial ability, short-term memory and other mental capabilities in addition to physical capabilities of a cross-country skier. In comparison with cross-country skiing, ski orienteers are faster on technically challenging narrow soft tracks. The athletes need to read a map and make hundreds of route choices on a course while skiing at full speed.
Ski orienteering uses no fixed structures; the natural environment is the arena. Ski orienteering events can be organised from an existing ski stadium utilising the permanent or specially designed network of ski tracks for biathlon and cross-country skiing.
Having its origins in the 1890s, ski orienteering is a sport with long traditions. Ski orienteering is a Recognised Olympic Sport.