Ski mountaineering has passed its final ascent towards inclusion at its first Olympic Winter Games after the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Executive Board proposed the sport to be staged at Milan Cortina 2026. The full IOC membership will likely approve the proposal when voting at its next Session planned in Tokyo July 20th.
A Session confirmation will mean five new medal events are added to the Games’ programme to be contested by 48 athletes – split equally among men and women – in sprint and individual events as well as a mixed-gender relay. There is no stand-alone venue requirement to stage the events and the additional athletes will not effect the overall Games quota of 2,900 due to adjustments that will be made to other sports to balance the numbers.
President of the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF) Thomas Kähr said in a statement Friday “The entire ski mountaineering community can be proud to be close to the realization of its Olympic ambition.
“One thing is already clear: we will do our very best to be a well-respected, proud member of the Olympic family. But first, let’s all hope that the members of the IOC will accept the proposal of the Executive Board.”
The IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reform package introduced in 2013 gave host cities the option to propose additional, regionally popular events for inclusion at the Games as long as they are compliant with specific IOC conditions.
In a statement, the IOC described ski mountaineering as a popular sport in Italy where its international federation is headquartered adding “Italy is also one of the world’s leading nations with several international successes in major competitions over the past 10 years.”
Ski mountaineering is a skiing discipline that involves timed races climbing mountains on skis, or carrying them while ascending and descending the rugged terrain. The World Championships were first held for the sport in 2002 and the ISMF was formed in 2008.
The sport is growing across Europe at the amateur and professional level but participation is proliferating across the world. The same five events were staged with great success at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
If ski mountaineering is approved, Milan Cortina will become the third Olympic Games to include at least one additional event under Agenda 2020. At Tokyo 2020 the new rules allowed for the return of regionally popular baseball and softball to the program along with karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.
Paris 2024 will see the addition of of breaking, a sport that was popular at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.