Unlike other freestyle events, there is no judging component in ski cross. It is all about speed as skiers race four at a time down a course comprised of various features such as banks, jumps, rollers and turns. Olympic ski cross courses have a length of 900m to 1200m with a vertical drop of 180m to 250m. A timed qualification run is used to seed the skiers into different heats of four skiers each. A special start device is used and when it opens the skiers start down the slope.
The start and the first section of the course before the first turn are a critical part of the run, since passing can easily occur. Other passing areas are designed into the course and interference between skiers can lead to disqualification. During each heat, the first two skiers crossing the finish line move onto the next heat, while the last two skiers, get ranked based upon their qualification times. The so-called big final round, determines the places from 1st to 4th, and the so-called ‘small final’ determines the places from 5th to 8th.