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Cross-country skiing: What to know for men’s, women’s individual sprint

Cross-country skiing, after no races Monday, picks back up Tuesday with the men's and women's individual at the Alpe...

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 8:19 PM
Updated: Feb 12, 2018 8:19 PM

Cross-country skiing, after no races Monday, picks back up Tuesday with the men's and women's individual at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre in PyeongChang, South Korea.

A quick recap of what’s happened in the sport at the 2018 PyeongChang Games:

On Saturday, Swedish skier Charlotte Kalla won her third career Olympic gold medal in the women’s 30km skiathlon. The skiathlon saw Marit Bjorgen, of Norway, become the most decorated female Winter Olympian by getting her 11th Olympic medal — a silver.

Then, Norway swept the podium in the men’s 30km skiathlon Sunday in a race that featured an incredible comeback for Simen Hegstad Krueger. Krueger collided with two skiers on the first lap and found himself 37.8 seconds back at the 6-kilometer point.

Krueger, somehow, found his way to the front of the pack with 5km left and never looked back. Martin Johnsrud Sundby took silver, and Hans Christer Holund got bronze.

Here are a few things to know about both the women’s and men’s individual sprint.

What it is
The individual sprint — 1.8km for the men and 1.3km for the women — begins with a qualification round, with the top 30 skiers advancing to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals divide the field into groups of six skiers over five heats.

Twelve total skiers advance to the semifinals — the top two finishers from each heat plus two “lucky losers,” which is ski slang for the two skiers with the fastest finishing time in the quarterfinals that didn’t finish first or second in their heats.

Simply put, the 11th and 12th fastest skiers from the quarters also automatically advance to the semis.

The semis are divided into two heats, split up by six skiers. The top two finishers advance to the finals, with two more “lucky losers” joining them.

And the finals are simple. The first skier to cross the finish line wins gold.

How to watch
The qualifying begins at 3:30 a.m. EST and you can watch it live right here.

Sochi in review
Justyna Kowalczyk, of Poland, won the gold medal in the women’s individual in Sochi. Kowalczyk won convincingly, too, edging the silver medalist Kalla out by 18.4 seconds. She finished the individual at Sochi in 28 minutes, 17.8 seconds.

Kowalczyk, 35, is back for her fourth Olympics.

Norwegian skier Therese Johaug got the bronze medal in the women’s individual at Sochi. Sadie Bjornsen was the highest-finishing American, placing 18th.

For the men, Switzerland’s Dario Cologna, known as “Super Dario,” won gold in the men’s individual. In fact, Cologna has won gold in the individual in the last two Winter Olympics, which were also his first two Olympics. He’s back for his third Games.

A pair of Swedes closed out the men’s podium at Sochi, with Johan Olsson taking silver and Daniel Richardson getting the bronze. The U.S. wasn’t close to medaling.

Noah Hoffman was the highest American in the men’s race at 31st.

What to watch
Two women, Bjorgen, 37, and Kowalczyk, 35, can become the oldest Olympic medalist in an individual sprint event by taking home a medal in the pursuit. Anita Moen, of Norway, currently holds the record at 34 years and 172 days old.

The only non-European medalist in an Olympic individual event is Canadian Chandra Crawford. Crawford won the gold medal in the sprint free at the 2006 Torino Olympics.

Canadian Alex Harvey and Alexey Poltoranin, of Kazakhstan, can become the first non-European NOC to claim an Olympic medal in a men's individual sprint event.

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