The International Olympic Committee (IOC) unanimously decided to integrate ski mountaineering as a new discipline during the Olympic Winter Games in Milan in 2026, on Tuesday.
Ski mountaineering will take its first Olympic steps at the Winter Olympics in Milan in 2026 as an “additional sport” requested by the Italian organizers, without guarantee of being renewed, the members of the International Olympic Committee decided on Tuesday unanimously ( CIO). This mountain discipline, consisting of climbing and descending off-piste routes on light skis fitted with sealskins, or with the skis in the bag if the slope is too steep, will be added to the fifteen Olympic winter sports – an intangible list since the introduction of snowboarding at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
Five ski mountaineering events
As at the Youth Olympic Games last year in Lausanne, which served as a test, ski mountaineering will give rise to five events (sprint and individual race for men and women, mixed relay) to decide between 48 qualifiers, who will enter in the overall quota of 2,900 participants in the Games. Anxious to renew its audience, guarantor of its future TV revenues, the IOC now leaves the host cities of the Olympic Games the possibility of offering new disciplines, if they are both “spectacular” and “culturally relevant for the host country and beyond”.
And ski mountaineering will be at home in the Alps, since European skiers, especially Italians, still monopolize its world podiums today, even though its International Federation now has 37 member countries on four continents. For the IOC, this discipline has the advantage of not requiring any construction, an important criterion since the body decided to limit costly investments that are often dissuasive for host cities.
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The arrival of this sport for seasoned mountain dwellers, agile and physically as sharp as trail runners, also allows the body to follow the recent explosion of amateur practice, while ski mountaineering already represents “15% of the market in snow and skiing, “according to manufacturers’ estimates cited by the IOC.