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How to watch women's cross-country skiing at the Winter Olympics: A guide to understanding and appreciating the sport

What time is women’s cross-country skiing on at the Olympics? Plus all the rules, streaming information, listings, and more you need.

SKI-NORDIC-WORLD-WOMEN Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

The 2018 Winter Olympics begins in February, and Team USA’s Cross-Country skiing team is looking to find success at the podium in Pyeongchang. According to Team USA, the U.S. is one of the top-six countries that participates in the sport. Four years ago in Sochi, the U.S. didn’t take home any medals in the sport, but a good number of the women and men ranked inside the top-50.

On the women’s team, the one to watch is world champion Jessie Diggins, who matched the U.S. women’s record by ranking was fifth in the season-long world cup standings in 2016. She also took home two medals in last year’s World Championships. Simi Hamilton, who made it to the podium twice over the last two years in sprinting, leads the U.S. men’s team.

What time and how can I watch?

You’ll be able to watch the Olympics on NBC and its network of channels as well as streaming live online at NBC Sports.

Feb. 10: Women’s 15km Skiathlon (2:15 a.m. ET)
Feb. 13: Women’s individual sprint, qualifying (3:30 a.m.), heats and finals (6 a.m.)
Feb. 15: Women’s 10km individual (1:30 a.m.)
Feb. 17: Women’s 4x5km relay (4:30 a.m.)
Feb. 21: Women’s team sprint, semifinals (3 a.m.), finals (5 a.m.)
Feb. 25: Women’s 30km mass start (1:15 a.m.)

Why should I quit my job and become a lifelong devotee of cross-country?

You know how hard it is to get your bearings on skis, right (OK, I’m from Florida, cut me some slack)? Imagine have to do so on a flat surface, while moving at a fast pace using only the momentum from your skis and poles in your hand. Oh, and you’re doing this for time -- racing against other people who are feet away from you.

What are the rules of cross-country skiing? Follow up: What is the weirdest rule of cross-country skiing?

Cross-country events are broken down into six competition formats: Individual, Sprint, Team Sprint, Skiathlon, Relay, and Mass Start. Each competition includes a men’s and women’s event, with the women racing on a slightly shorter course.

Essentially, one of the biggest differences between cross-country skiing and other skiing like downhill, is that the terrain changes frequently, and there’s a lot of shifting weight from ski to ski to get across the terrain.

Take a look at how flat the terrain is usually with this sport.

There are two types of starts for cross-country. A mass start, is the traditional first person to finish wins. For interval start, racers leave every 30 seconds and go against the clock.

What can I talk about to impress the cross-country ski enthusiast in my life?

As far as rule violations go, skiers have to stay inside the track when coming around corners, and racers aren’t allowed to switch to another track during a race. The other violation a skier can have is while using the herringbone technique. Essentially, this means you are moving uphill in a V-pattern. This is allowed unless the skiis slide out from underneath, which causes a skier to push off from edges of the ski, which isn’t allowed.

Whose jersey should I buy?

Sadie Bjornsen is quite talented, capturing over 20 top-10 world cup finishes, and had a podium finish at last year’s Tour de Ski. Sophie Caldwell and Jessie Diggins on the U.S. women’s team are also names to watch during this year’s Olympic games.

What is the sport’s AMERICA RATING?

America has increasingly moved up in the international ranking in recent years -- 10 years ago, the U.S. was 17th, and it now finishes right outside of the top-five. Additionally, eight different U.S. athletes have finished inside the top-three in world championships and world cup races.

Historically, the Americans don’t typically medal in cross country skiing. The lone American to do so was Bill Koch, who won silver in 1976.

What’s the best GIF I can watch from cross-country skiing?