After nearly a decade of promoting the participation of girls and women, the leaders of the Nordic combination, one of the original Winter Olympic Competitions, were quite confident that they would secure the future of their sport in the coming years.
This sport, which requires excellence in both ski jumping and cross-country skiing, set up the Women’s World Cup circuit and competed in the women’s world championships. Countries from North America, Europe and Asia participated.
Then came some disturbing news of the leadership of the governing body of the skiing world. The people of the International Olympic Committee, which is in charge of the program for the next Winter Games in Milan-Cortina (Italy) in 2026, are skeptical that this sport has made enough progress to be worthy of women’s competition.
And that wasn’t the only bad news. There is concern that the Nordic combination is not enough to be worth the competition at all. As the only non-competitive event for women, it could be a candidate for the Nordic combined elimination, as gender equality is said to be a priority for the Olympics.
“Without women, it could be a challenge for us to keep the boys,” said former ski jumper Lasse Ottesen, who is the Norwegian combined race director. “We have a long history.”
Voting is set for June 26.
“We’re all very disappointed,” said Annika Malacinski, the leading American woman in the Nordic combination, from Finland, who is training there, in an interview. “Every athlete strives to be at the elite level, that is, at the Olympics. If that happens, all the workouts, sweat and tears, are useless because they don’t put us in one of the most important competitions. ”
Malacinski, 21, was suspended from full-time college to compete in the Nordic Combination in order to be in the first women’s team to compete in the Olympics, similar to the women who competed in the first women’s ski jumping competition in 2014. He trains for about five hours a day, balancing his jump practice with endurance training and gym strength, trying to be strong enough to be strong in cross-country running, but light enough to fly far in the jump.
“It’s hard to believe that we can experience this kind of inequality in the 21st century,” he said.
The potential loss of sport is a major concern in northern Europe, where the Nordic combination is one of the most popular winter sports.
“Competing in the Olympics means the world to everyone,” said Norwegian Mars Lund Lund, along with her sister, who is one of the best in the world in the combined Nordic Mari Nordic. Leinan’s Lund sisters (March is 21 years old and Marik is 23), they left home and started attending a special school as a teenager, which gave them the opportunity to play sports for the Olympics. “It’s also important for men and women to have equal opportunities, both in sports and in general,” added Lund to Mars Leinan.
A COI spokesman confirmed that the Milan-Cortina sports program is on the agenda of the next executive committee and that the program committee will make recommendations but “everything else is speculation”.
Nordic officials and the FIS, the governing body of the world of skiing, have been told that the COI’s problem is not only equality, but also its importance.
Organizers are trying to limit the size of the Games by including new sports that appeal to the younger generation. The star of last winter’s Beijing Games was Eileen Gu, a freestyle skier who won gold medals in the big air and halfpipe and a silver in slopestyle, a test that didn’t exist a decade ago. Great air for skiing has been added this year.
Furthermore, while the COI acknowledges that the Nordic Combined has established major women’s competitions, officials with the Nordic Combined say they are concerned that participating countries and excellent countries include the regular Winter Olympics list, and that there is little potential for major Southern competitors. America, Africa or Asia in addition to Japan.
A century ago, when cross-country skiing and cross-country skiing were essentially the only types of skiing, a combined event crowned the world’s greatest skier. There were only 16 events in nine sports at the opening Olympics. There are currently over 100 events in 15 sports. With the advent of alpine skiing and freestyle, without saying anything about snowboarding, the Nordic combination does not define the king (or queen) of the mountains.
Skiing officials and athletes say the criticism of the sport is tantamount to moving the gates. COI officials said the sport should strive for gender equality and establish a women’s competition. Its leaders have done just that, and they see the growing participation of girls and women in spreading the sport’s appeal.
They have promised to reduce the number of places for men by 15 and organize an Olympic competition for women with 30 athletes, which will only add 15 people from their sport to the Games.
However, sports leaders are concerned that the COI will keep its numbers down and eliminate the problem of gender inequality by completely eliminating the Nordic combo.
“We’re scared,” said Horst Huttel, Germany’s director of Nordic Events.
Nick Hendrickson, director of the US Nordic Combined team, said he had seen the situation before, but with a very different result. Her sister, Sarah, was in the first group of women’s ski jumpers. She competed in the 2014 and 2018 Olympics.
When women’s ski jumping got the green light for Olympic Inclusion, funding for the sport increased, and competition levels rose, 13-year-old girls found a viable path to fulfilling their Olympic dreams.
“It’s a bit of chicken or egg,” Hendrickson said. “The Women’s Nordic Combined has come a long way. The next step is to move on because of being in the Olympics. That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. “
Without Olympic inclusion, however, there may be no sports.