Will the historical discipline of the winter games disappear from the Olympic program? The question is spreading like wildfire in the Nordic combined world. But the answer is hard to find.
On Friday 24 June, the IOC Executive Board is due to meet in Lausanne to discuss the program of events for the Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Games. The future of Nordic Combined, which has existed continuously since the Games in Chamonix in 1924, will be discussed and debated.
An important clarification: this discipline is the last in the Winter Games program, in which only men participate. A serious shortcoming at a time when the IOC is stubbornly seeking parity in the Olympic Games, winter and summer.
According to several sources, two options are being considered.
The first, and most optimistic, is to add women’s Nordic combined to the Milan-Cortina 2026 Games. This has the advantage of establishing the desired parity by the IOC. But it would lead to an increase in the number of athletes, which is always undesirable in our time of cost control and the pursuit of gigantism.
Another variant? The clean and simple departure of Nordic combined from the next Winter Games, sacrificed on the altar of gender equality. Disaster scenario.
A week before the meeting of the IOC Executive Board, rumors fluctuate between the two camps. Everything would be possible. The worst would not be excluded.
This was explained to the agency by American Bill Demong, a member of the board of directors of the American Nordic Ski Federation (USA Nordic). Associated Press : “What I hear very clearly from the rumors is that the solution to achieve gender parity in the Olympics will be to remove men’s combined from the program in 2026.“.
At the International Ski Federation (FIS), the head of the discipline, Lasse Ottesen, is also prone to speculation. “Such a case would be tragic.“, he claims. But he asks:What happens if the IOC refuses to include women in the Milan-Cortina 2026 Games? What will happen to the men’s biathlon“.
I find it difficult to answer before the meeting of the executive committee. But it seems hard to imagine the IOC retaining an all-male sport in a competition where parity is on the agenda.
The feminization of Scandinavian biathlon is already underway. The Women’s World Championship was established by the FIS. Over the last season, she has collected almost 40 contestants. Women’s competitions are played at the world championships.
“There’s no reason why we can’t be at the Olympics– evaluates the Norwegian Ida-Marie Hagen, the second in the general standings of the World Cup. The level is getting higher and higher. Participation is growing and becoming more universal“.
In 2018, the FIS tried to break into the 2022 Beijing Games by asking the IOC to add women’s Nordic combined. His request was denied. Corps Athletic Director Keith McConnell then explained that he needed to learn a little more about the versatility and technical level of the discipline.
Four years have passed. “Combiners” have gained strength, but their Olympic future remains unclear. Will they be invited to Milan Cortina 2026? Or, on the contrary, will their male colleagues from the exclusion camp join them? Answer at the end of next week.