After nearly a decade of nurturing the participation of girls and women, the leaders of Nordic combined, one of the original Winter Olympic competitions, were fairly certain they had secured the future of their sport for years to come.
The sport, which requires excellence in both ski jumping and cross-country skiing, had established a women’s World Cup circuit and held a women’s competition at the world championships. Countries in North America, Europe and Asia all had participants.
Then came some disturbing news from the leadership of skiing’s world governing body. The people at the International Olympic Committee who are in charge of the program for the next winter Games, scheduled for Milan-Cortina, Italy in 2026, are skeptical that the sport has made enough progress to merit a women’s competition.