What Is Ski Cross? | Winter Olympic Event Guide

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Racing down a mountain. How dangerous can it be? Screenshot via YouTube (Olympics)

2022 Winter Olympics Location 

Ski cross at the 2022 Winter Olympics will take place at the Genting Ski Park, which is around 100 miles northwest of Beijing. Although an existing snow resort, the tracks for the Olympic events, including ski cross, were built for the purpose of the upcoming games. Despite the majority of athletes at this year’s Winter Olympics having little time to practice on the new tracks, the FIS Ski Cross World Cup was held here late last year, meaning competing ski crossers will be somewhat familiar with the course already.

What Separates the Best from the Rest?

Without the chance to wear high-tech suits due to kit restrictions, the athletes who best navigate each race as they come are destined for medals. Planning multiple corners, jumps and rollers ahead during the race is key to winning. Knowing which corner to overtake most efficiently, where to land each jump, and how to avoid the other athletes are all race-defining choices to which answers can change on in the blink of an eye.

Combine good decision making with peak fitness, as well as incredible skiing ability and ice-cold fearlessness, and you’ve pretty much got yourself the ultimate ski cross racer . Think of what it would take to compete in an event that requires a Formula One / Mario Kart standard of racing mindset. Swap the cars for skis, gravity, and a mountain and you’re really starting to understand what the best in this event are all about.

Who to Look Out for at The Olympics?

A good way of gauging the current ski cross scene can be to look to the FIS (International Ski Federation) Ski Cross World Cup standings. Being an annual World Cup, won on points collected across multiple events through the year, it’s a great way of seeing who’s performing best (and most consistently) in the run up to the Winter Olympics.

Going into the Winter Olympics, the favourite in the women’s event couldn’t be clearer. Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund is leading the table with 950 points, which might not mean much to those unfamiliar, but when you hear that she’s just 5 points short of the combined tally of 2nd and 3rd, her place as Olympic favourite might make sense. 2nd placed Fanny Smith of Switzerland sits at a still-impressive 566 points, whilst Canada’s Marielle Thompson is 3rd on 389 points. If her abilities were at all in doubt, Naeslund’s performance in late January at the Idre Fjall World Cup meeting cemented her position in the scene. She found herself finishing well clear of the pack once again.

In the men’s ski cross FIS World Cup standings, the story is a lot more balanced. Switzerland’s Ryan Regez and France’s Terence Tchiknavorian find themselves tied on 477 points, with the latter storming ahead of his teammate Bastien Midol (441 points) after a season-long battle. It’s very much all to play for in the men’s event later this month.

Will an underdog steal Naeslund’s gold medal? Who’ll take gold in the men’s event? Just how many crashes will there be? With an event as exciting as ski cross, we’re always in for a treat. Follow ski cross later this month at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

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