The International Olympic Committee on Friday decided not to add the Scandinavian Women’s Combined Event to the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, a devastating defeat for dozens of women who have dedicated their lives to the event in recent years and potentially. A fatal blow to one of the original Winter Olympics.
Men will continue to compete in the Scandinavian combined, which requires excellence in both skiing and cross-country skiing. But their event is now under threat for the 2030 Games as the Olympic Committee prioritizes sports that can achieve gender equality.
Austrian Carl Stoss, a member of the Executive Committee of the Olympic Committee, said that the survival of Scandinavia would depend on the sport showing “significant positive development, especially with participation and an audience”.
Stoss noted that only 10 countries sent athletes to the 2021 Scandinavian Women’s World Cup.
“This is not a fulfillment of universality,” Stoss said. “It is very interesting for us in European countries, but outside of Europe you will not really find athletes who are engaged in this sport.
Keith McConnell, IOC Sports Director, said the organization has decided to allow men to compete in 2026 as it would not be fair to athletes to eliminate their sport three and a half years before the Games.
The leaders of the International Ski Governing Body, FIS, have spent most of the decade engaging in the Women’s World Cup for the Scandinavian combination and the World Cup.
They offered a women’s competition at the Olympics with the 30 best athletes. But knowing that the IOC had limited the number of athletes per game to 2,900 and wanted to include a new sport, the Nordic Combined proposed reducing the number of male athletes by 15 so that the total number of athletes in the sport would only increase. 15.
Annika Malaczynski, 21, the best American woman in Scandinavia, has been suspended from full-time college for three years to reach the highest level of her sport.
“How could they?” How dare they? ” Malaczynski said about the Olympic Committee. “I spent a lot of time and effort to build the whole world with so many amazing girls in this sport and the IOC told us that we are not enough?
Norwegian Lasse Otesen, director of Scandinavian combined racing, called the decision a “sad day” for the sport.
“The development of Scandinavian women combined in recent years has been more impressive, so the next logical step would be for them to participate,” Otesen said. “The distrust of the executive council towards the further development of our discipline and the apparent misjudgment of our women’s achievements is shocking.”
The IOC sought to mitigate the blow to women by changing other measures so that by 2026, 47 percent of athletes will be women. Among other changes, the women’s ski jump includes competitions on a large hill, in addition to a small normal hill, and there will be more female bobsledgers as well as a women’s double lounge event. Also, each discipline of the Scandinavian combination continues to exist as individual events.
Opponents of including the Scandinavian combination for men or women question its suitability.
A century ago, when cross-country skiing and cross-country skiing were essentially the only form of cross-country skiing, the combined event crowned the world’s largest skier. From the Olympics, the 1924 Winter Games in Chamonix, France, included only 16 events in nine sports. Currently, more than 100 events are held in 15 sports. With the advent of alpine skiing and freestyle, not to mention snowboarding, the Scandinavian combination no longer defines a mountain king or queen.
The organizers are trying to limit the size of the games and also to include a new sport that will appeal to the younger generation. The highlight of last winter’s Beijing Games was Eileen Gu, a freestyle skier who won gold medals in the Big Air and Half-Pipe and silver in Slowstyle, events that did not exist ten years ago. Great air for skiing was added this year.
Also, the organizers question whether the Scandinavian union will be able to create geographical diversity. Outstanding countries include the usual list of Olympic supporters and have little potential for the best competitors from South America, Africa or Asian countries other than Japan.
Malaczynski said the International Olympic Committee had set itself on the back side of history.
“I hope they realize that not only have they potentially ruined the Scandinavian combined future – the original Olympic sport, but also the dreams of so many young girls to become Olympians,” he said. “The fight has just begun.”