Anthropometric Measurements of Olympic Cross-Country Skiers

The Olympic Games brings together the best athletes in the world. Studying the changes in anthropometric measurements of Olympic champions can demonstrate how athletes in general have changed over 100 years of sport.

Thorleif Haug (Norway) 1924 Thorleif Haug (Norway) won three gold medals
at the inaugural 1924 Winter Olympics
at Chamonix, France

Anthropometric Measures of Olympic Cross-Country Skiers

Here is a table of the age, height, weight and body mass index (BMI) of the male Olympic champion 50km Cross-Country Skiers for most Winter Olympics (details from a few of the early Olympics are unavailable). The graphs presented below show how these measures have changed over time. Generally, there is a trend for increasing height and weight over time, and BMI was fairly consistently between 22 and 24. The age of the Olympic champion ranged from 24 to 35 years (average 27.7 years). The average of all Sochi 2014 Olympic cross-country participants (which includes athletes from all events) was height 1.80m, weight 74.7kg and BMI 22.9.

Year Winner Age Height Weight BMI
1924 Thorleif Haug 29 - - -
1928 Per-Erik Hedlund 30 - - -
1932 Veli Saarinen 29 173 cm (5 ft 8 in) 65 kg (143 lb) 21.7
1936 Elis Wiklund 26 185 cm (6 ft 1 in) 80 kg (176 lb) 23.4
1948 Nils Karlsson 30 - -
1952 Veikko Hakulinen 27 173 cm (5 ft 8 in) 66 kg (146 lb) 22.1
1956 Sixten Jernberg 26 177 cm (5 ft 9.5 in) 72 kg ( 159 lb) 23.0
1960 Kalevi Hämäläinen 27 172 cm (5 ft 7.5 in) 65 kg (143 lb) 22.0
1964 Sixten Jernberg 35 177 cm (5 ft 9.5in) 72 kg (159 lb) 23.0
1968 Ole Ellefsæter 29 183 cm (6 ft 0 in) 79 kg (174 lb) 23.6
1972 Pål Tyldum 29 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) 76 kg (168 lb) 23.5
1976 Ivar Formo 24 188 cm (6 ft 2 in) 78 kg (172 lb) 22.1
1980 Nikolay Zimyatov 24 183 cm (6 ft 0 in) 68 kg (150 lb) 20.3
1984 Thomas Wassberg 27 185 cm (6 ft 1 in) 75 kg (165 lb) 21.9
1988 Gunde Svan 26 188 cm (6 ft 2 in) 81 kg (179 lb) 22.9
1992 Bjørn Dæhlie 24 184 cm (6 ft 0.5 in) 76 kg (168 lb) 22.4
1994 Vladimir Smirnov 29 185 cm (6 ft 1 in) * 85 kg (187 lb) 24.8
1998 Bjørn Dæhlie 30 184 cm (6 ft 0.5 in) 76 kg (168 lb) 22.4
2002 Mikhail Ivanov 24 180 cm (5 ft 11) 74 kg (163 lb) 22.8
2006 Giorgio Di Centa 33 174 cm (5 ft 8.5 in) 67 kg (148 lb) 22.1
2010 Petter Northug 24 185 cm (6 ft 1 in) 82 kg (181 lb) 24.0
2014 Aleksandr Legkov 30 178 cm (5 ft 10 in) 73 kg (161 lb) 23.3
2018 Iivo Niskanen 26 187 cm (6 ft 1.5 in) 80 kg (176 lbs) 22.9

source: height and weight data was mostly collected from the Wikipedia profiles of each athlete, and when none was available, from the sports-reference.com website. For 2014, data was from the Sochi athlete database

Height changes over time

The height of the Olympic Cross-Country 50km champion has varied greatly over time, with a general trend of increasing height over time. The height of the Olympic champion has ranged from 172 to 188cm (5 ft 7.5 inches to 6 ft 2 inches). The average height of the Olympic champion was 181cm (5 ft 11 in).

height of Olympic marathon champions

Weight changes over time

The weight of the Olympic Cross-Country 50km champion has also shown a trend of increasing over time. The weight of the Olympic champion has ranged from 65 to 85 kg (143 to 187 lbs). The average weight of the Olympic champion was 74.5 kg (164 lbs).

weight of Olympic marathon champions

BMI changes over time

The BMI of the Olympic 50km Cross-Country champion has been generally between 22 and 24, and there has been a small trend of increasing BMI over time. The average BMI of the Olympic champion was 22.7.

BMI of Olympic marathon champions

Note: This analysis is for illustrative purposes only. The data was from different sources, and may also not accurately represent their measurements at the time of their race.

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