A long push by USA Nordic and leading national ski associations across Europe has led to the International Ski Federation announcing a FIS Nordic Combined World Cup for women beginning in 2020-21. The high-level elite tour will coincide with the inclusion of women at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships that season in Oberstdorf, Germany.
This past season 14 nations participated in the women’s FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup, just in its second year. Rising American star Tara Geraghty-Moats (W. Fairlee, Vt.) took the season title. The sport is seeing rapid growth and an increasing level of athleticism. FIS has moved aggressively to advance women’s nordic combined with hopeful Olympic inclusion.
USA Nordic Executive Director Bill Demong has been directly engaged with the FIS Women’s Nordic Combined Working Group under the leadership of Estonia’s Suzanne Tahk.
“Over the past nine months our FIS committee has done extensive research of both men’s and women’s athletes, teams and national ski associations and have found great solidarity on a host of issues relative to advancing women’s nordic combined,” said Demong. “We also have had strong leadership from FIS Nordic Combined Director Lasse Ottesen who has pushed hard to move things forward.”
Geraghty-Moats, who was named U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Nordic Combined Athlete of the Year, won 11 events last season. She has also been a strong advocate for her sport, together with her fellow athletes.
“A lot of credit has to go to influential countries like Norway and Germany who are really investing in their women’s teams and actively working to bring women’s nordic combined to a high-level,” she said. “I’m glad FIS is doing so well at developing women’s nordic combined. It goes without saying that I’m excited to compete on the World Cup and at the World Championships.”
Still, Geraghty-Moats and her peers plan to continue pushing to move their sport to the Olympics, hopefully in 2026.
“I can only hope the IOC will notice that the sport is now at a high level,” she said. “Including women in the FIS World Cup will help the women get sponsors. However, it will still be extremely hard to make a career out of the sport until it’s in the Olympics.”
Next season’s FIS Continental Cup tour for the women will hit five stops in five nations with 13 events. The season will open in the USA with a December 13-15 event in Park City, Utah.
Ottessen, an Olympic ski jumping medalist who served as head coach for the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team from 2006-2008, has moved the women’s agenda forward quickly for FIS. A strategic plan was developed in 2016 with FIS staying on track with planned advancements.
“This is on schedule according to our strategy document,” he said. “We are looking forward to presenting our women to the world.”
Demong is looking at a host of important next steps in the evolution of women’s nordic combined. “We need to look at synchronizing prize money and quota allocations for men and women at the World Cup level,” he said. “And we want to continue to push the concept of bringing men and women together on the tours for maximum spectator value and efficiencies for the teams.”
The women will again be integrated into the FIS Summer Grand Prix tour with three stops throughout Germany in August.