Cross-country skiing first appeared at the 1976 Winter Paralympic Games in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. The competition is open to athletes with a physical impairment and blindness/visual impairment. Depending on functional impairment, a competitor may use a sit-ski, a chair equipped with a pair of skis. Athletes with visual impairment compete in the event with a sighted guide. Male and female athletes compete in short distance, middle distance and long distance (ranging from 2.5km to 20km) or participate in a team relay using classical or free techniques. Cross-country skiing is governed by the IPC with co-ordination by the IPC Nordic Skiing Technical Committee following modified rules of the International Ski Federation (FIS) and is practiced by athletes in 24 countries.

Equipment:

Sit-ski: Some athletes with a physical impairment compete from a sitting position using a sit-ski, also called a mono-ski. As the name suggests, mono-skis have a specially fitted chair over a single ski. The chair includes seat belts and other strapping, as well as a suspension device to minimize wear and tear on the skier's body.

Ski: Made from fiberglass, classical skis are usually 25cm to 30cm taller than the height of a skier. They are light, weighing less than 0.45kg each; and narrow, with curved tips and a cambered midsection, which is thicker and arched. Free technique skis are about 10cm to 15 cm shorter for greater manoeuvring. They are also nominally stiffer and have tips that curve less than classical technique skis. The underside of both types of skis has a groove down the centre to keep the ski straight when going downhill.

History:

Cross-country skiing first appeared at the 1976 inaugural Paralympic Winter Games in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. Men and women used the classical technique in all cross-country distances until skating was introduced by athletes at the Innsbruck 1984 Paralympic Winter Games. Since then, events have been split into two separate races: classical and free technique. The new technique, however, was not officially used in a medal race until 1992 in Albertville, France.

The Lillehammer 1994 Paralympic Winter Games marked several other milestones in the history of Paralympic nordic skiing. Biathlon was introduced as a medal event for men and women, and for the first time Nordic skiers competed at the same venue used for the Olympic Winter Games.