Para Cross-country Skiing

Christina Picton of Team Canada competes in the Para Biathlon Women's Middle Distance Sitting during day four of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics on March 08, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
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Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026


Para Cross-country Skiing

Cross-country skiing is the oldest type of skiing. It started as a way to travel over snowy terrain and became a sport in the late 19th century. As we look forward Milano Cortina 2026, here is everything you need to know about this discipline.



Male and female athletes compete in 5-, 10- and 20-km sprints or participate in a team relay using classic or free-style techniques. Depending on the limits of activity due to the disability, a competitor may use a sit-ski — a chair equipped with a pair of skis. Athletes with vision impairments can participate in the race with a sighted guide.

At Milano Cortina 2026, Para cross-country skiing events will take place in Tesero, Val di Fiemme.


Picture of Tesero. Click on the image to discover more about the area.


Para cross-country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing, made its first appearance at the 1976 Winter Paralympic Games in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. The competition is open to athletes with physical disabilities in the upper and lower limbs (standing) and lower limbs and trunk (sit-ski), as well as individuals with visual impairments.

Men and women used the classic technique in all cross-country distances until the introduction of skate skiing by athletes at the 1984 Winter Paralympic Games in Innsbruck. Since then, events have been divided into two separate races: classic technique and freestyle. However, the new technique was not officially used in a medal race until 1992 in Albertville, France.

Olympic History

This sport first appeared at the Örnsköldsvik 1976 Winter Paralympic Games in Sweden. Athletes used the classic technique in all long distance races until the introduction of the skate skiing technique in Innsbruck in 1984. Since then, the events have been divided into two separate specialties: classic technique and freestyle. It was only at the Albertville Paralympics in 1992 that the freestyle technique was officially used in a medal race.


Depending on the disability, skiers may use a sit-ski, which consists of a chair equipped with a pair of skis. Athletes with visual disabilities participate in the event with a seeing guide. Standing skiers use conventional cross-country skis, made of fibreglass composite materials. Both use poles to propel themselves if they are able to.

Curiosities about Italian Championships

The first Italian victory in Para cross-country skiing came in Innsbruck 1988 thanks to Paolo Lorenzini. He won the long distance race (30 km) and placed third in the medium distance race (15 km) and the 4x10 km relay.

At the next Paralympic Games in Albertville 1992, Dorothea Agetle won the first medals for Italian female athletes, with bronze medals in the 5 and 2.5 km races. She continued her success at Lillehammer 1994, winning two more bronze medals and a silver in the 10 km, which she also won again in Nagano 1998.

At Salt Lake City 2002, Italy discovered the talent of Roland Ruepp, who had already won silver in the 10 km in Nagano in 1998. This cross-country skier from South Tyrol made history by winning gold medals in both the 5 and 10 km races. Then at Vancouver 2010 it was Francesca Porcellato’s turn. She had previously made her mark in Paralympic athletics at the Summer Paralympic Games, but triumphed in cross-country skiing with an unforgettable gold in the 1 km sprint classic technique.

Finally, Giuseppe Romele, who carried hopes for the para cross-country skiing movement, won a bronze medal in the 10 km sit-ski race in Beijing 2022.


Here are the answers to your questions.

  • Who is the most decorated male Paralympic cross-country skier at the Olympic Games?

  • Who is the most decorated female Paralympic cross-country skier at the Olympic Games?

  • Which nations have won the most medals at the Paralympic Games?

  • Who are the Italian Paralympic champions in Para cross-country skiing?

  • Where will the Para cross-country skiing competitions of Milano Cortina 2026 take place?

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