How to Watch World Cup Cross-Country Ski Races and Biathlon from the U.S.


The World Cup starts later this week. If you’re an American ski fan, you’re probably wondering how to watch the races live (if you live on the East Coast or are very dedicated) or how to watch a replay of the races once you actually wake up (if you live in a later time zone and/or are less dedicated). Read on for more on your World Cup viewing options.

The official answer for how to watch World Cup cross-country ski races: Pay $8.99 a month for Ski and Snowboard Live

Ski and Snowboard Live is a third-party broadcast provider that will broadcast, among other things, every cross-country ski race this season (*sprint quals perhaps not included). This includes World Championships in Planica this spring, according to their marketing materials.

Races are available either live or on demand for later replay. “There will be live English commentary on all events,” according to an October U.S. Ski & Snowboard press release.

The cost for this service is $8.99 per month for a single discipline. If you are reading this website you presumably want the discipline called “Nordics,” which includes both cross-country skiing and ski jumping (but not nordic combined).

If you would like to add on one or two additional disciplines (your other options here are “Alpine Ski” and “Snowboard and Freestyle Ski”), then you want the all-access pass, which costs $15.99 total for all three disciplines. See this press release first if you’re specifically hoping to watch alpine races held in the U.S. and/or Austria; it’s complicated.

If you are currently a member of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, i.e., you paid for a competitor, coach, or comparable license for this membership year, you qualify for a 15% discount on either a single-discipline pass or an all-access pass. Check your inbox for a November 17 email from USSS for the discount code.

“You can watch all archived footage of past events, highlights from races, and more” through Ski and Snowboard Live, according to the USSS press release.

Great moments in T.V. watching: Tyler Kornfield watches Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall win an Olympic gold medal.

The unofficial answer for how to watch World Cup cross-country ski races, part one: Use a VPN and pretend that you’re in Europe

Nordic ski races are broadcast live in, well, Nordic countries, as well as in much of central and western Europe. If you are comfortable using a virtual private network service, or VPN, you can represent that your IP address is located in a different country, and so access geo-restricted content that would otherwise be inaccessible from this country.

There are a very large number of VPN providers out there, with a wide array of prices and services. As just one example, Windscribe comes well-reviewed, and is exceptionally easy to use. Notably, the free version of Windscribe comes with 10 GB of data per month, which should be enough to watch most or all of the World Cup races held in a given calendar month. While the free Windscribe level gives you access to a relatively limited number of countries for server locations, one of them, crucially, is Norway, home to national broadcaster NRK.

Update, Nov. 24: NRK may in fact not be broadcasting this year’s World Cup races, per the comment at the bottom of this article. You would therefore need to use a VPN that gave you access to Finland, Sweden, Great Britain, or somewhere else in Europe.

NRK staff hard at work in the start pen at Beitostølen last weekend. (photo: screenshot from NRK broadcast)

If you decide to go this route, you would:

  1. Sign up for a VPN service, either free or paid.
  2. Download the VPN for your computer and/or browser and/or phone in advance.
  3. Install the VPN.
  4. Sign into the VPN and set your location to a country that broadcasts the races (e.g., Norway).
  5. Navigate to the website for the national broadcaster for that country (e.g., NRK for Norway, YLE for Finland, etc.) and find the channel that has the race on.
  6. Cheer for your favorite American athletes, while brushing up on your Norwegian or Finnish in the process.

You should reassure yourself that you are comfortable with any technological, logistical, or ethical issues that this presents before using a VPN to watch broadcast television from a foreign country.

There are multiple additional viewing options and geo-restricted workarounds compiled in this helpful blog post by Ian Torchia from a few years ago.

The unofficial answer for how to watch World Cup cross-country ski races, part two: Look for after-the-fact streams on YouTube

There are often, but not always, streams posted to YouTube within a few hours of a race ending. Try searching for a race location and date, perhaps in a couple of languages. This year, for example, the YouTube channel Sportsidioten posted full video of both sprint finals from Beitostølen last weekend, as well as highlights of all four distance races.

N.b., the legality of a user reposting streams of copyrighted material like this is questionable at best, and such streams therefore do not always endure on the internet. Paying Ski and Snowboard Live or a VPN provider for access is a more reliable way to ensure that you can view races.

And as for biathlon: Eurovision!

Biathlon is making it easy for you: Go to Watch what you want, for free, either live or archived. No VPN needed. The end.

Some logistical notes on time zones

FIS typically operates on Central European Time, which is currently six hours ahead of East Coast Time, eight hours ahead of Mountain Time, and 10 hours ahead of Alaska Time.

You will see one of several different time zones listed for race start times, depending on what you are looking at. For example, the FIS calendar site lists races in both local time for the venue and Central European Time; the USSS broadcast guide lists races in Eastern Time; Bruce Adelsman’s fine Midwest-based site SkinnySki lists races in Central Time; and Ski and Snowboard Live seems to list the races in a computer user’s local time zone. Here is what the top few rows of the Ski and Snowboard Live upcoming page for “Nordics” look like for me sitting here in Anchorage, for example, with Alaska Time listed throughout:

Personally, I have found the FIS app to be the most useful way to figure out race start times, as it automatically lists things in my local time zone. Here is a screenshot showing the first few entries for the races in Ruka on Thursday and Friday, for example.

‘This is all somewhat confusing,’ you may find yourself asking. ‘Will you have a weekly viewing guide for me on this fine website?’

Yes, yes we will. The first viewing guide will go up on Thursday of this week, in advance of Friday’s races. It will be updated throughout the season, typically on Thursday or Friday but earlier when there are mid-week races.

‘This all sure is a lot of work to watch a ski race,’ you may also be asking. ‘Is making things this hard really the best way to grow the sport in this country?’

No, say a lot of prominent American ski commentators.

If you are frustrated at having to go through these steps to watch your favorite skiers in action this winter, you are not alone. This recent Twitter thread features some revealing real talk on this issue from some boldface names in American nordic ski media, including Chad Salmela and Steve Fuller. (OP Cody Townsend is hardly an obscure figure in skiing, either.)

“What’s going on isn’t helping the sport. It’s strangling it,” Salmela states at one point in the thread. (If you don’t recognize Salmela’s name, you surely recognize his most famous broadcast call.) “We stopped calling xc right when Diggins emerged, winning Tour de Ski AND the crystal globe. It’s not NBC’s job to make skiing viable as sports entertainment in the US. It’s the IOC’s/FIS’s job to partner with wholesalers to make value w/ TV retailers. Not happening…”

Fuller, a man who took the iconic picture of Gus Schumacher riding atop Luke Jager’s shoulders after his individual win at 2020 World Juniors (you can see the photo here) and was formerly Chief Marketing Officer for L.L.Bean, notes, “The related sponsorship impact is huge. Who wants to sponsor a team without viewers? And that hurts both the NGBs and the athletes themselves.”

U.S. Ski & Snowboard is not to blame for these broadcast decisions, was the general sentiment in this thread from all parties. Indeed, here’s Courtney Harkins, Director of Marketing and Communications for USSS: “I wish we had control over it! The rights are sold by an external group and they fully control how they are distributed. We have some say on domestic events, but that’s it. But things are changing at FIS, so this might change in the future.”

— Gavin Kentch

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  1. Many many thanks for this helpful guide–if you have the links in place every Thursday it will make it the go-to site for this!
    One thing I hope y’all do more reporting on: how can biathlon have its act together so much better? I mean, Eurovision covers xc too (I think?), so why isn’t there a comparable service and archive. FIS should truly be ashamed of itself.

    • Biathlon owns it’s own coverage, FIS uses local production, changing from venue to venue, country to country. Therefor, IBU has a consistent product and has their act together, while FIS is a $hitshow and the quality varies greatly from one weekend to the next.

  2. Hey sorry to bother you but Im pretty sure the World Cups won’t be on NRK based on last years streaming. They are on Norwegian TV3/Viaplay which is a subscription based service also, so a vpn to Norway will not work.

    • Uh, chiming in to give accurate information is actually really helpful, and is not bothering me at all. Thanks so much for this comment; I appreciate it. I have updated the article accordingly, and will change it more tomorrow as necessary depending on how things to. Thanks again.

  3. Very helpful, and so much better than … “oh just use a VPN.” A related but more complex question. Some domestic races have started to do some limited streaming, will you be able to give us a heads up when this happens?

    • Thanks; glad you find this useful. I’m really just trying to give readers information that I would want to know if I were trying to follow this sport from the U.S., and this is basically first on the list. And to answer your question, yes, absolutely. That will happen at U.S. Nationals next week, for example, then I don’t know for sure about the other Midwest SuperTour stops, but I know that CXC has been really progressive about that, so I’d expect it for several of the ST weekends that follow. And certainly for the Birkie. Look for links and full streaming info in the relevant weekend (okay, week-long) viewing guide for U.S. Nationals, coming soon.
      — Gavin

  4. Thanks for this – super useful. From a Canadian perspective not even sure where to start these days (as Ski & Snowboard is US only)! Any idea which non-Scandinavian channels regularly show XC World Cup racing – ie which German, French, Italian channels broadcast the races?

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