With 2018 Winter Olympic Games in full swing in PyeongChang in South Korea let’s take a moment to evaluate where skimo racing stands in relation to the Olympic Games.
It has been over a decade since the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF), the world governing body for ski mountaineering racing, have started its formal efforts to push skimo into the Olympics. Such recognition is a big goal for any sport as it traditionally leads to more financial stability within the sport, more business opportunities and other new perks for its athletes and federations.
Latest News – February 2018
Last week, just before the 2018 Games have started, there was an official announcement made by interim International Olympic Committee (IOC) Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission chair Juan Antonio Samaranch, saying: “Beijing has not asked for any new sports on the programme… We are happy with that and will not be proposing any.”
Earlier that week, IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell commented: “I think the gap between popularity and participation and global audiences between the existing seven and any others probably makes that jump to new sports a little bit harder than in summer,” basically suggesting that it will be very difficult for any new sports being added to Winter Olympics while the IOC is definitely looking into adding new disciplines within existing sports.
Ski Mountaineering Racing at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games
One of the desired steps for including ski mountaineering racing in the Olympic Games was to have it appear at the Youth Olympic Games first. While skimo was successfully approved for the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland it looks like that decision, for now, had no impact regarding the big Games.
Despite the positive development for skimo in the Youth Olympics, USA won’t be sending any young skimo athletes to the 2020 Games as its Olympic Committee expressed recently that it won’t select athletes in sports that are not already included in the “adult” Olympic Games. For Canadians, there is still a chance the country might send one female and one male skimo athlete to the 2020 Youth Games.
ISMF Recognition by the IOC
Last year, the IOC has officially recognized the ISMF federation which had been seen as particularly huge success by the ISMF as achieving another critical milestone in the whole process.
Skimo at 2026 Olympics?
The host city for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games will be decided in September 2019 while final decisions on new sport inclusions will take place few years later.
We believe that inclusion of ski mountaineering racing will be somewhat dependent on which country hosts the 2026 Games as this will define the extra resources that will need to be deployed by the organizers. Calgary, Canada and Schladming, Austria are among the bidding cities that have very suitable environmental conditions for skimo.
With all that said, we have to ask – Does ski mountaineering racing have a chance to be an Olympic sport by 2026? While the chance definitely exists there are significant headwinds to overcome.
Also, there is perhaps a more important question to answer – Is it good for skimo to become an Olympic sport? Four years after writing this highly debated piece – What if SkiMo becomes an Olympic sport? – I am personally still undecided on a clear answer one way or the other.
What are your thoughts?