About Ski-O

Orienteering with cross country skis on, where you have a large network of ski tracks of different track quality. Relatively simple orienteering, but the speed, different track quality and the fact that you have to ski at the same time makes it challenging and intense. 


The map

The map for ski orienteering is basically the same as the foot orienteering map, but with the speed/quality of the ski tracks accentuated with solid, dashed or dotted green lines. 




Nowadays, most people use skiis for the freestyle/skating technique primarily, even though there are competitors who sometimes use a little kick wax to better be able to get uphill in narrow tracks. When choosing skis for ski orienteering you need to take into account that the tracks often are soft and narrow. Today everyone uses the same type of skis as those used in cross-country skiing. The ski orienteers use the skis of the same length as their own body height or a few centimetres shorter. 


During most competitions, the track system is a mixture of narrow and wide tracks. There is usually a larger proportion of narrow tracks. The narrow tracks are usually 0,8-1,0 meters wide, which means that you can not fully use your leg strength and the upper body therefore must take a greater workload in comparison to cross-country skiing, especially in uphill slopes. It is therefore very important to have poles of the right length to get the full effect of the upper body output.

The optimal length of the pole for ski orienteering is of individual preference, and varies a lot depending on the person’s strength, size, and technique. For most people, it is too difficult to climb steeper uphill slopes with the pole length used in freestyle in cross-country skiing. The length recommended in cross-country skiing for freestyle is 0,9-0,91 of the body height, which for most people within ski orienteering is too long. As a guideline you use poles that are 20-25 cm shorter than your body height, or even shorter, but this is something that individually needs to be tried out. 

Map holder

To be able to read the map while skiing, all ski orienteers nowadays use a map holder attached around the upper body. 

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The competitive sport of ski orienteering involves several different distances and several different forms. Individually, they compete in four different distances. The individual distances are usually performed with individual start, with 1–3-minute start intervals. Mass start also occurs, preferably on middle or long distance.

Ultra-long distance

Takes place only at the world cup, usually the last race of the season.

Long distance

The original distance of competition. For senior aged men and women, the estimated winning times are supposed to be between 135-155 minutes.

Middle distance

Winning times of about 40-45 minutes. 

Sprint distance

10-15 minutes winning time. 


Relays can be arranged with different numbers of legs. At championship level, there are three legs in the World Championship and European cup for both men and women, while in the Swedish championship there are 2-man relays with four legs (2 legs per participant).

Mixed relay

A sprint relay arranged mainly at the World championship, European Championship and World cup. Usually there are six legs, each 6-8 minutes long.

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More information about Ski Orienteering at the website of the Swedish Orienteering Federation. 

Film about ski orientering