Will a historical discipline of the Winter Games disappear from the Olympic program soon? Demand is spreading like wildfire in the world of Nordic combined. But the answer is hard to find.
On Friday 24 June, the IOC Board of Directors will meet in Lausanne to work on the event program for the Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Games. The future of the Nordic combination, which has been present continuously since the 1924 Chamonix Games, will be discussed and debated.
Important clarification: The discipline is the last of the Winter Games program to be contested by men only. A major drawback at a time when the IOC is pushing hard for equality in the Olympics, winter and summer.
According to various sources, there are two options on the table.
The first, the most optimistic, is to add a Nordic women’s combination event to the Milan-Cortina Games in 2026. The benefit of this is that it will achieve the parity desired by the IOC. But it would result in an increase in the number of athletes, always undesirable in these times of cost control and the pursuit of gigantism.
The other option? A pure and simple withdrawal of the Nordic combination from the next Winter Games, sacrificed on the altar of gender equality. The disaster scenario.
A week before the meeting of the IOC Executive Board, rumors are circulating between the two camps. Everything would be possible. The worst could not be ruled out.
The American Bill Demong, member of the board of directors of the American Nordic Ski Federation (USA Nordic), explained this to the agency. Associated Press †What I hear very clearly through the rumours is that the solution to achieve gender equality in the Olympics would be to remove the men’s Nordic combination from the program by 2026†
At the International Ski Federation (FIS), the head of the discipline, Lasse Ottesen, is also reduced to speculation. †Such an eventuality would be tragic“, he states. But he asks:What would happen if the IOC refused to include women in the 2026 Milan-Cortina Games? What would become of the Nordic Combined men?†
Difficult to answer before the meeting of the executive committee. But it seems hard to imagine the IOC maintaining an all-male sport in an event where parity is high on its agenda.
The feminization of the Scandinavian combination is already underway. A Women’s World Cup has been established by the FIS. During the past season, she gathered nearly 40 participants. A women’s event is contested at the world championships.
†There’s no reason we can’t be at the Olympicsestimates the Norwegian Ida Marie Hagen, second in the general classification of the World Cup. The level keeps getting higher. Participation is growing and becoming more universal†
In 2018, the FIS tried to force the door of the 2022 Games in Beijing by asking the IOC to add a Nordic Combination event for women. His request was denied. The sports director of the body, Kit McConnell, went on to explain that he needed to know a little more about the universality and technical level of the discipline.
Four years have passed. The “combinardes” have gained ground, but their Olympic future remains unclear. Will they be invited to Milan-Cortina 2026? Or, conversely, will their male colleagues join them in the camp of the excluded? Answer by the end of next week.