Debate about Olympic disciplines: Nordic combined is threatened with death from cold

Et is summer, but some winter athletes are getting shivers down their spines these days: the Nordic combined athletes have to deal with the horrifying vision that they could lose their place in the Winter Olympics programme, which they have held since the premiere in Chamonix in 1924. And that would be tantamount to a slow cold death for them.

The supporters of the impressive German fighters Vinzenz Geiger, Eric Frenzel or Johannes Rydzek will now ask: why? Everything just seemed fine. The competitions are exciting. And the World Ski Federation FIS has applied to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the inclusion of women’s competitions for Nordic Nordic Combined athletes for the second time. The big stigma of being the only discipline at the Winter Games that is only contested by men could easily be eliminated.

Some things are amiss

But suddenly the project comes to a standstill. The IOC attaches great importance to gender equality. But it could also ensure that it does not accept women, but throws men out of the program for the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. In any case, the topic is on the table at the IOC executive meeting on Friday.

Like all disciplines, the Olympians regularly check the Nordic Combined for their suitability for games. And it turns out that something is amiss. For example, the universality: Only four nations won medals at the recent Winter Games in Beijing, Norway four, Germany and Japan two, Austria one. Or the attractiveness for media consumers, and especially young people: the traditional combined skiers have little to oppose such network-flexible superstars as the US-Chinese Eileen Gu in freestyle skiing.

For almost 100 years they have been a natural part of it. In the early days, when there were no alpine races at the Olympics, they were even considered the kings of skiers. But the – anyway always limping – quality comparison of sporting achievements is not a criterion in the fight for the fickle attention of the virtual counter-worlds.

And now? It remains to be seen whether the IOC this time will consider the development of Nordic Combined women, which only began eight years ago, to be sufficiently advanced to classify them as Olympic-worthy. But that is only a marginal aspect. The mighty clearing of the Olympians’ throat in Lausanne relates to the whole picture. Nordic combined under the umbrella of the International Ski Federation will have to modernize itself thoroughly in order to attract more nations and become more attractive to mass tastes. Because when it comes to the question of whether you’re still up to date, the argument that you’re almost 100 years old doesn’t do much good.

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