In New Zealand, the national championships have been contested since 1928, although there have been some years without any races due to a lack of venue. Since the establishment of the Snow Farm in 1988 the major race of the NZ season has become the Merino Muster (with distances of 7km, 21km, and 42km). The event attracts a field of international competitors from as far afield as Finland. In addition, three FIS Continental Cup races are held in August. These events are one level below World Cup level and form part of the Australia/New Zealand Cup series. In 2009 and 2011, the FIS races formed part of the biannual 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games with live television coverage and a worldwide audience reach of over 500 million.
Regular club races are run most weekends, culminating in the national age group championships held towards the end of the season in September.
There are a number of event types. Events are divided into sprint or distance.
Sprint range from 1000m to 1800m in length. Distance races range from 5km to 30km for women, and from 10km to 50km for men. Marathons range from 30km to over 100kms (both men and women).
Events are also divided by technique: skate or classic, or where they are combined it is called a skiathlon.
Races can be either mass start, where all racers start together and the first across the line is the winner, or interval start which is like a time trial.
Cross Country Skiing
Cross Country Skiing appeared at the 1976 Winter Games in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. The competition is open to athletes with a physical disability and blindness/visual impairment. Depending on functional disability, a competitor will ski upright or use a sit-ski.
Athletes with blindness/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).
In Cross Country skiing, athletes compete on distances ranging from 2.5 to 20 kilometres.