Sport orienteering first appeared as a skill of orienting yourself on the terrain, and became a sport of its own at the end of the 19th century. The first competitions were held in military garrisons of the UK, Norway and Sweden.
First large-scale orienteering competitions for civilians were organized by Tjalve, a Norwegian club, near Oslo in 1897. By 1934 this kind of sport spread to Switzerland, USSR and Hungary. Annual competitions for men and women in Sweden, Norway and Finland started in the same year as the Second World War.
The International Orienteering Federation was founded on May 21, 1961 at a congress in Copenhagen.
The first World Ski Orienteering Championships were held inin Hyvinkää (Finland) in 1975. The competition was attended by national teams of Finland, Sweden, the UK, Austria, Bulgaria and Switzerland.
The hosting nation took all the medals in the long distance race, which had been called the classical race back then. Olavi Svanberg became the first world champion. Women’s gold went to another Finnish representatives Sinikke Kukkonen, and silver and bronze medals were won by women from Sweden. Other events included relay races, where men’s teams had four participants, and women’s — three.
In 1988 the program was further amended.A middle distance was added.Sprint was added in 2002, and a mixed relay (with one woman and one man) was added in 2011. In 2005 men’s relay teams were expanded to three participants.
Over the past several years there was much talk in the IOF about entering this sport into the program of Winter Olympic Games. An application was sent to the International Olympic Committee, and if it is approved, we will know in 2022 who will become the first Olympic champion in ski orienteering.