OBERSTDORF, Germany (March 1, 2021) – With the success of this past weekend’s debut of women’s nordic combined at the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) Nordic Ski World Championships in Oberstdorf, the sport’s next step is now the Olympic Winter Games. National sport organizations and FIS remain squarely focused on pushing the International Olympic Committee for inclusion as early as the 2026 Olympics in Milan-Cortina.
“The women have checked all the boxes athletically now and it’s time for the IOC to bring gender equality to the Winter Olympics,” said Bill Demong, an Olympic champion in nordic combined and executive director of USA Nordic, the sport leadership organization in America for ski jumping and nordic combined.
“FIS and the nordic combined family are very proud of the historical day here in Oberstdorf,” said FIS Nordic Combined Race Director Lasse Ottesen, a former athlete and coach who oversees the international sport. “The main goal is now to have the nordic combined women implemented in the Olympic Winter Games 2026 program.”
With the advent of women’s ski jumping into the Olympics in 2014, nordic combined remains the only Winter Olympic event where women cannot compete. Nordic combined, which pairs up ski jumping with cross country skiing, was an original event on the Winter Olympic program in 1924.
With the rise of women’s ski jumping 15 years ago, nordic combined also began to come into focus. In the mid ‘10s, women’s classifications were added to events. A FIS Youth Cup began in 2014. A U.S. championship for women debuted in 2017, with Nina Lussi (Lake Placid, N.Y.) taking the first gold. In 2017-18, FIS began a global Continental Cup series for women with Tara Geraghty-Moats (W. Fairlee, Vt.) taking the 2019 and 2020 season titles.
Women have now competed three times in Junior World Championships and a year ago broke onto the Olympic stage at the Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne. This season the women were elevated to the World Cup stage with Geraghty-Moats taking the initial crystal globe. Most importantly, this past weekend 10 nations and 33 athletes took part in the first World Championship.
“The development we have seen in the last seasons has been great,” said Ottesen. “We had 39 women from 13 nations at Junior World Ski Championships so we see that there is a growing interest for nordic combined. The national ski federations around the world are doing a great job.”
The success of the World Championship with a strong and deep athletic field, including athletes from Europe, Asia and North America in the top five, and a global television audience will help launch the sport to its next level.
“Today marked a huge leap for the sport of nordic combined,” said Demong after Saturday’s event. “It’s incredible how fast the sport is developing and to see the level on both the ski jump and the cross country course as well as the number of nations in the fight is very impressive. It is absolutely ready for the Olympic program. It must remain a priority of FIS to add it to the 2026 Olympic program for Milan-Cortina.”
That sense of history very much on the minds of the USA Nordic athletes on the inaugural team in Oberstdorf. “It feels so cool to be a part of history,” said Annika Malacinski (Steamboat Springs, Colo.). “I just can’t wait until 50 years from now and I get to tell these stories over again. The memories I’ve made with my teammates and just the whole venue – it’s so amazing how well put together it is.”
“It’s amazing and it’s been really fun to be a part of history,” said Alexa Brabec (Steamboat Springs, Colo.)., who was a part of the Youth Olympic Games debut a year ago.
“It makes me feel really proud that I’m a part of it,” said Tess Arnone (Steamboat Springs, Colo.), who was in the 2019 Junior Worlds debut and the Youth Olympic Games. “I’ve been a part of a lot of firsts the last few years and that’s pretty cool.”
One of the sport’s biggest advocates has been veteran Geraghty-Moats, who has added star power as an athlete and a strong voice for her fellow athletes.
“I definitely didn’t do it single handedly,” she said after the World Championship debut. “I’m just really honored to be here. I hope that the legacy I leave in the sport will help the sport continue to grow. It’s amazing what a lot of people can do if we work together to move sport and gender equality forward.”
While FIS and USA Nordic will remain vigilant in pushing for 2026 Olympic inclusion, there are already additional steps being taken within the sport itself. A mixed gender team event is already fixed in the 2023 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships to be held in Planica, Slovenia. But Ottesen is also looking at improving the already existing programs.
“Now the next step is establishing a stable World Cup calendar for the coming year,” said Ottesen. This past season, the World Cup debuted with a spectacular event in Ramsau, Austria, but the pandemic claimed competitions set in Lillehammer, Norway and Otepää, Estonia. The Continental Cup tour the past seasons has had around four events calendared each season, including stops in America.
“We need more events with passionate organizers who will help the women forge a stronger pathway,” said Demong. USA Nordic has been an active organizer with December events in Steamboat Springs, Colo. and on the Olympic venues in Utah, although women’s teams were unable to travel this year due to the pandemic.
Demong, who is a member of the FIS Nordic Combined Executive Committee, says the next step will be to continue discussions between FIS and the International Olympic Committee and to ultimately ensure that the governing FIS Council submits women’s nordic combined to the IOC in consideration for the 2026 Olympics.
Women’s Nordic Combined Firsts
2014-15 Season – FIS Youth Cup
2017 – U.S. Championships
2017-18 Season – FIS Continental Cup
2019 – FIS Junior World Championships
2020 – Youth Olympic Games
2020-21 Season – FIS World Cup
2021 – FIS Nordic Ski World Championships
2023 – Mixed gender team event added to World Championships
2026 – Target for inclusion in Olympic Winter Games