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There is a cross-country skiing event this year at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics called the skiathlon. Apparently, this is a race that was formerly called Pursuit. What differentiates this event from other cross-country ski events, and what was the reason behind the name change?

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The skiathlon is a cross-country skiing race in two stages. The first stage is done in the classic technique. After the first stage, the racers change skis at a transition area, then continue racing on skating skis using the free technique. The men's race is 30 km total distance, and the women's race is 15 km.

Originally, this event was called "pursuit," but the name was changed in 2011 to "skiathlon" to help distinguish between this event and the cross-country ski portion of the Nordic combined race, in which the racers start in a handicapped start, which is also a type of pursuit race.

Sources:

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