In cross country skiing, athletes compete in how fast they cross prepared trails (pistes) using skis and ski poles.
According to historians, the first skis were made by northern hunters in the 6-7th centuries BC. The appearance of the skis was driven by the human need to hunt for food in winter and move through snow-covered lands. The first skis were similar to modern snowshoes.
Cross country skiing is a low impact, aerobic sport that has various health benefits for its athletes. The low impact nature of the sport reduces impact loading on joints, while also using a large percentage of muscle mass to glide over snow covered surfaces. In addition, cross country skiing can improve an athlete's respiratory and cardiovascular systems.