Ski Orienteering is a winter sport of the orienteering discipline which takes place in snow-covered regions, where the objective for athletes is to navigate from the start to the finish through checkpoints riding on skis. The sport requires great deal of physical strength and endurance along with excellent navigational skills and ability to decide on the best route while skiing at a high speed.
Skis, boots, bindings, and ski poles are the basic equipment required for the sport. Each athlete is handed with an orienteering map, which highlights the control points and the order in which they have to be navigated. The map provides skiers with all the information required to decide on the fastest route. Athletes will be presented with several route choices where even a single wrong decision can cost valuable time.
There are "long-distance" events held over a distance of 20 to 30 km, "short distance" over 15 km, "downhill sprint" that is mostly over a downhill course, and "relay" events.
Ski Orienteering competitions are time based and the skier who completes the checkpoints in the right order in the fastest time is the winner. Each athlete will carry an electronic card which will be tagged to ensure all check points were covered.
The World Ski Orienteering Championships is the highest level competition for the sport and is conducted every odd year. A World Cup is also conducted for the sport every even year. There is a push to have ski orienteering at the Winter Olympics.
- Orienteering — participants find their way to various checkpoints across rough country with the aid of a map and compass, the winner being the one with the lowest elapsed time.
- Biathlon Orienteering — a combination of the navigation sport of orienteering with rifle shooting.
- Mounted Orienteering — participants navigate from start to end through control points, usually on horseback.
- Underwater Orienteering — individual and team events in which competitors wearing scuba diving equipment swim an underwater course following a route marked on a map prepared by the competition organizers, using a compass and a counter meter to measure the distance covered.
- Ski Mountaineering — the objective is to climb up a mountain wearing skis, occasionally carrying if required, and then descend on the skis.
- Cross-Country Skiing — races over snow-covered terrain using skis.
- Ski orienteering at the Winter Olympics
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