How to watch the Nordic Festival 

Some of best Nordic skiers in the world competing at Whistler Olympic Park over next 10 day

World Cup and Olympic test events for three out of four Nordic sports — ski jumping, cross country and Nordic combined — will be held at Whistler Olympic Park over the next 10 days.

An Olympic test event for the fourth Nordic sport, biathlon, will be held in March.

The three events this month will count for 54 medals awarded in 2010, with 36 cross-country medals, nine Nordic combined medals and nine ski jumping medals awarded at the Olympics. If a lawsuit launched by female ski jumpers for inclusion in the Games is successful there could be up to nine additional medals awarded.

All three sports have been part of the Winter Games since the beginning in 1924, but have histories that go back a lot further than that. For example, people have been cross-country skiing since the 1500s, and the first recorded competition was in 1767.

While it may seem simple — the first cross-country skier to the finish line wins, the ski jumper who goes the farthest takes the gold — it’s actually a lot more complicated. For example, the first person to the line in a cross-country sprint race is not necessarily the winner, and the longest jumper may get docked a few style points and wind up in second or third.

To help you get more out of the 2009 Nordic Festival events — all of which are free to the public — Pique has put together a short list of rules to help spectators understand what’s going on.


Cross country

The Viessmann FIS Cross-Country World Cup, presented by Rauch, takes place from Jan. 16 to 18, with sprint, team sprint and individual pursuit races for men and women.

The Individual Spring races are on Friday, Jan. 16, with the qualification from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., followed by the finals from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The women ski a 1.2 km course and the men a 1.6 km course, and start in 15 second intervals. Although skiers try to post the fastest time, they also try to pass as many skiers as possible on their way to the finish.

The top 30 athletes from the qualifier move on to the quarter finals, where they compete against five other skiers in six-skier heats. Only the fastest two skiers in each heat move on to the next round until the finals. The win goes to the first skier across the finish line in the A final race, and not the fastest time overall.

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