Ski mountaineering added to 2026 Winter Olympic program

The IOC Session’s approval makes ski mountaineering the first new Winter Olympic sport since skeleton in 2002.

(ATR) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) unanimously approved the addition of Ski Mountaineering to the program of the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, as part of this week’s ongoing IOC Session held in Tokyo.

Ski mountaineering’s inclusion marks the first time a new sport was added to the Winter Olympics since skeleton in 2002. Five medal events will be contested at the Games in 2026: individual and sprint events for men and women and a mixed relay. 24 athletes of each gender will get quotas to compete.

The discipline was submitted for inclusion by the Milano-Cortina 2026 organizing committee in line with the IOC’s Agenda 2020+5, which allows hosts of the Games to propose additional, one-off sports to their itineraries. As such, ski mountaineering is not guaranteed to come back for future Winter Olympic editions, though it can reapply for a place every four years.

An IOC press release explaining the addition noted that mountaineering was “a particularly popular sport in Italy, with deep historical and sporting roots across the alpine regions”, as well as a “fast-growing winter sport among amateur and weekend practitioners”. 2026 Olympic host Italy is a leading nation in ski mountaineering competitions, and while the sport is most developed in Europe, the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (IMSF) now counts 38 member federations from four different continents.

Ski mountaineering involves climbing mountains both on skis and while carrying them (IMSF)
Ski mountaineering involves climbing mountains both on skis and while carrying them (IMSF)

Ski mountaineering recently also made its first ever IOC-sanctioned appearance at the 2020 Youth Winter Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland, with the IOC noting that mountaineering’s involvement “contributed to the success” of the multi-sport event.

IMSF President Thomas Kähr reacted enthusiastically to the news, declaring “We are Olympic! We are writing an important page in the history of winter sports. After many years of commitment, efforts and passionate work we have finally reached the top step and realised the famous Olympic Dream. It has been a long and intense path, but now the satisfaction is unthinkable and the skimo community must be proud of this achievement”.

“I am sure that all my colleagues and the entire world of ski mountaineering are feeling an indescribable emotion in this moment and I can assure that the ISMF will do its utmost to present a magnificent sport at the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026.”

The full schedule of ski mountaineering events and details surrounding athlete quotas will be determined at the IOC Executive Board meeting in June 2022.

Homepage photo: IMSF

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