No Ski Mountaineering Racing at 2022 Olympic Games? What about 2026?

skimo_olympic_equation

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?

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Comments

  1. Hi Michael,
    Yes a country like Switzerland would push for skimo to be include for sure. The question is whether the commercial forces (mainly TV rights) ultimately can see it as a money maker? Will wait and see!

  2. Sion, Switzerland is also a candidate city for hosting the 2026 winter games. If they get it, I’m pretty sure ski mo would be in!

  3. “Also, there is perhaps a more important question to answer – Is it good for skimo to become an Olympic sport?”
    This has me wondering now:
    https://www.facebook.com/NERandoRaceSeries/posts/2015677798473457

  4. Hi Cameron, Thanks for stopping by!
    I think we are all for growing the sport, the question is into do we want it to evolve, or not? I fixed the link to the 4 year old article so you can read more arguments there.

    As for your proposal “I think a great strategy is to get more youth into it…”, I definitely agree.
    Again, the question becomes how exactly and who’s going to do it?
    To give you a bit of context, historically, it’s been difficult keeping youth attracted for longer period of time because of lack of training “venues”. Canadian resorts think everyone going uphill is a “criminal” and then without ski guides it’s tricky to take youth into the backcountry. So far it has been only volunteers growing the sport in Canada (as well as this website), no outdoor companies really lend a major support yet they are the biggest beneficiaries. All Canadian National Team members pay all of their expenses even when competing at World Champs. Personally, I made a decision long time ago that I will keep participating and volunteering even when I have to fund everything myself. That’s just the state of the union as of now.

    Let us know your thoughts and whether you want to be involved in some capacity.

    Thanks,
    Stano

  5. Cameron Shute says:

    can you check the link to the 4 yrs old article? I’m a major proponent of the growth of the sport in north america, and I think a great strategy is to get more youth into it (look at how big nordic is). I think that at least Canada can handle the users, and someday dream of uphill focussed training areas and skimo specific programs for my son.

    thanks for all your efforts in promoting skimo!

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