Development aid or euthanasia?: Nordic combined trembles for their future

Nordic Combined is one of only six disciplines that have always been part of the Winter Olympics.

Development aid or euthanasia?: Nordic combined trembles for their future

Nordic Combined is one of only six disciplines that have always been part of the Winter Olympics. But will it stay that way? A landmark decision at the end of June is about nothing less than their very existence.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has put equality on its agenda and wants all disciplines to have men's and women's competitions at the Olympic Games. Nordic combined has been an exception to date, after all, only men were allowed to take part in the 40 medal decisions in the 24 editions of the games so far. As our editors found out, this "unique selling point" of the discipline could be fatal. On June 24th, the IOC will vote on whether the combined women are allowed to go to the 2026 Olympics. In its own way, the possible voting results would have a major impact on the discipline.

Scenario (I), The women's combination makes it into the Olympic program: In 2016, the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) adopted a strategy paper with the aim of getting the women's combination into the Olympic program as early as 2022. It was a bitter blow that this goal was not achieved. But those responsible around race director Lasse Ottesen continued to work tirelessly and fulfilled the remaining goals of the roadmap: the women's combination has been in the program of the Junior World Championships since 2019, the first World Cup was held in December 2020 and in 2021 in Oberstdorf for the first time for medals at a Nordic event World Ski Championships fought.

DSV athlete Svenja Würth, who competed in both the World Cup and World Championship premieres, underlined the importance of being included in the Olympic program: "We would have completely different options, just in terms of funding, if the discipline would become Olympic." At the same time, she appealed to look beyond the status quo: "A lot could develop in the four years until the next games, you have to keep that in mind when making the decision, even if it's already being made."

Scenario (II), Nordic Combined is threatened with extinction - not only at the Olympics: Not being included in the Olympic program again represents a real threat to Nordic Combined, after all, due to the IOC agenda mentioned, it is highly questionable whether it will at a renewed non-admission of women will also be Olympic after 2026. The seven-time world champion Eric Frenzel clearly criticized this fact in an interview: "I find it very sad that these considerations are being made at all. For me, tradition is part of sport and our sport is pure tradition."

The loss of this status would counteract all previous attempts to build up by the FIS and the national federations and would also have devastating consequences for the foundation on which the discipline is based: it would be extremely difficult for the FIS to ensure the continued existence of the World Cup. Sponsors and organizers would drop out and with them the competitions and with them the media presence, especially through TV broadcasts. It would also be a severe cut for the athletes: With the elimination of competitions, the already small prize money would disappear and "sooner or later the combination will no longer be used," Frenzel warned.

On June 24, the IOC will decide whether to provide development aid or whether to bury a core discipline of winter sports alongside the idea of ​​equal rights.

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