Langlauf - Foto: Christian Heilwagen

The Coop FIS Cross-Country World Cup is back in Oberhof!
19. - 21. Januar 2024

Overview of Cross-Country Skiing Disciplines

Whether it's relay, skiathlon, or mass start - each of the cross-country skiing disciplines has its own unique characteristics.

As a non-expert, it's easy to get confused. In this overview, you'll find the most important information about the disciplines summarized concisely.

The course layout also holds a surprise for all spectators and athletes because all routes are possible, but not all are used in every World Cup.

With knowledge about the distances, the course layout, and the special features , you are well-prepared for the Cross-Country Skiing World Cup in Oberhof.

On the track, ready, set, go!


Distance men: 1,5 km

Distance women: 1,5 km

Duration for men & women in one day: Qualification - approx. 1h 10m; Final - approx. 1h 35m

Special feature: The shortest race in cross-country skiing

First, each athlete completes a qualification race. The 30 fastest times qualify for the quarterfinals. There are 6 athletes in 5 races. The top two in each race reach the semifinals. The remaining two slots are filled by athletes (Lucky Losers) with the best times from the quarterfinals. Each of the two semifinals features 6 athletes. The final is contested by the top two athletes from the semifinals and the Lucky Losers from the semifinals.

Mass start

Distance men: 20 km

Distance women: 20 km

Duration: women - approx. 1h 5m; men - approx. 1h

Special feature: Athletes start simultaneously

In mass start races, all athletes start simultaneously, providing spectators with the ultimate excitement. 


Distance men: 7,5 km per athlete 

Distance women: 7,5 km per athlete 

Duration: women - approx. 1h 20m; men - approx. 1h 10m 

Besonderheit: Teamwork is required

In relay races, four athletes from the same nation and of the same gender start individually, one after the other. The first two athletes ski in the classic style, and the last two ski in the skating style. The handover is done through clearly identifiable physical contact in the exchange zone.


Distance men: 15 km

Distance women: 10 km

Special feature:  Time is crucial

Athletes start with a 30-second interval between them, and the winner is the athlete with the fastest time.

Team sprint

Distance men: 4,5 km per athlete (3 laps á 1,5 km)

Distance women: 4,5 km per athlete (3 laps á 1,5 km)

Special feature: The fastest team wins

There is no qualification round, which is why it starts directly with two semifinals. A team consists of two athletes. The runners take turns running the sprint course three times. The first three teams and the next four fastest teams qualify for the final.


Distance men: 30 km (2 laps á 15 km)

Distance women: 15 km (2 laps á 7,5 km)

Special feature: Both styles must be mastered

All athletes start simultaneously. The first round is skied in the classical style, and in the second round, athletes change skis and poles and continue skiing in the freestyle technique.