Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times:

A typical elite cross-country skier will burn about 30 calories a minute during training — by comparison, a 155-pound person on an elliptical machine burns about 11 calories a minute.

Research has shown that a typical male elite cross-country skier must consume 7,000 to 8,000 calories a day — more than three times the caloric needs of an average male — to meet the energy demands of the sport. Female elite skiers must eat about 3,500 to 4,000 calories a day — about double the calories consumed by the average woman. (A Swedish study found that during the hardest training days it can reach 8,126 for men and 4,780 for women — about double the calorie needs of Kenyan marathon runners.)

What does it take to consume 8,000 calories — the equivalent of about 20 plates of lasagna or 40 scoops of ice cream — every day?