Will the Nordic Combined be deprived of its Olympic future on Friday? According to sports show information, the discipline can hope.
The Nordic combined athletes can look forward to the meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday (June 24th, 2022) with some hope.
The impending end of the sport seems off the table for the time being. That said Horst Hüttel, team manager in the German Ski Association (DSV) on the day before the conference of the IOC program commission of the sports show. “The talks of the last three weeks have achieved a lot. At the moment we don’t expect Nordic combined to drop out of the programme.”explained the DSV official on Thursday (06/23/2022).
Friday: IOC decision on combined future
On Friday, the IOC will decide in a video link of the Executive Committee whether the women will be included in the Olympic program. At the beginning of June, speculation had arisen that this application could be rejected.
The refusal to admit women combined athletes could also have meant the end of men from 2030, since the combined athletes would then not meet the gender equality of sports required by the IOC.
“Tragic, short-sighted, misguided”
“I heard loud and clear in the back rooms that Nordic combined is to be taken out of the program”five-time Olympic champion Bill Demong from the USA told the AP news agency in mid-June: “To scrap one of the most primordial Olympic sports would be tragic, short-sighted and misguided.” Lasse Ottesen, NoKo boss at the World Ski Association FIS spoke of “Speculations from different directions.”
International expressions of solidarity with combiners
The real opportunity to complete the discipline at the Olympics had caused protests across all sports and internationally. The Italian alpine skier Christof Innerhofer said: “It would be great if women’s Nordic combined became Olympic.”
In numerous greetings shared by the world association FIS on its Twitter channel, the Norwegian ski jumper Silje Opseth, the Swedish cross-country skier Johanna Hagström, ex-alpine star Kjetil Andre Aamodt (Norway) and the four-time combined Olympic medalist Akito Watabeaus called for it Japan or biathlete Synnoeve Solemdal (Norway) unanimously: “Women’s Nordic combined must be Olympic in 2026.”
Ski jumper Geiger: “With such a tradition”
Athletes from Germany also spoke up. “I think you should do a sport like Nordic combined with such a tradition cannot be taken out of the programme“said four-time ski jumping world champion Karl Geiger.
“The decision is groundbreaking for the whole sport. The women are just part of it“explained the two-time combined Olympic champion Johannes Rydzek. “The Olympic Games, which live from their tradition, must not kick their most traditional sports from the program.”
Two-time junior world champion and combined hope Jenny Nowak said: “Nordic combined has been my life since I was six years old. I hope to continue the sport for a long time and to be at the Olympics in 2026.”
Sticking points: national diversity and ratings
Hüttel now explained in the sports show: There is no document on the IOC’s consideration of removing Nordic combined from the program. But: “Yes, these talks have been held.” According to Hüttel, the IOC was driven by an alleged lack of national diversity and moderate ratings at the Olympics. These arguments could be refuted.
“If you take a closer look, you can see that we have just as many nations in the top 20 as, for example, the alpine or cross-country skiers. The cross-country skiers still have starters from Brazil or Kenya who finish ten minutes behind. It can be something like that in a sport with ski jumping, of course, never exist.”
Make competitions more exciting
The numbers at the IOC were also able to be explained when it came to audience ratings. “Our Olympic competitions in Beijing were never at the weekend, instead on a Wednesday morning. So this comparison is flawed.”, according to Hüttel. Nevertheless, strong ratings could be achieved in Europe or Japan.
Regardless of the IOC decision on Friday, one has to work on the visibility of the sport, says Hüttel. For example, the World Ski Association FIS is striving for more attractive television times away from early Saturday and Sunday mornings. In the cross-country competitions, considerations are being made as to how exciting catch-up races in the lower field of participants can be better presented.
Three options on Friday
And on Friday at the IOC? Specifically, three decisions can be made: “in the best-case the men’s status quo will be maintained and the women will be admitted for the 2026 Olympics. in the worst case the women’s application is rejected.” It could then only be set again for 2030.
The third option is to postpone the decision until the World Championships in Planica in February. “Then we would have had the first combined combined competition at the World Championships. The IOC was very impressed that the FIS included mixed competitions in the World Championships program, independently of the Olympic program. This underlined the importance of combined for women “according to Hüttel.
So the chances don’t seem too bad that the biggest dream of Germany’s Maria Gerboth or Norway’s Ida Marie Hagen will come true. The dream of participating in the Olympics in 2026.