2026 Winter Olympics Adds Skimo
There’s surfing and and rock climbing for the summer games so why not young up the Winter Games with some ski mountaineering (Skimo)? The International Olympic Committee (IOC) unanimously approved to add Ski Mountaineering to the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics.
From the President of the US Ski Mountaineering Association (USSMA), Ram Mikulas, “This is fantastic news! We are very excited to hear about the announcement to include ski mountaineering in the Milano Cortina 2026 winter Olympics. We are very thankful to the IOC, International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF), Italy and everyone that helped make this possible.”
Alrighty Then, What the Heck is Ski Mountaineering?
Ski Mountaineering is a competitive winter sport where skiers race up and back down challenging mountain terrain while passing through a series of checkpoints. The events include multiple race formats of individual, vertical, teams, sprint, and relay races.
The inclusion of ski mountaineering on the 2026 program will consist of:
Five new medal events: two men’s events (sprint/individual), two women’s events (sprint/individual) and one mixed-gender relay event.
An athlete quota of 48 (24 men/24 women) falling within the overall quota framework of 2,900 athletes.
The races ascend between 4,300 to 6,200 vertical feet, depending on the category, and typically lasts around 1.5 – 2 hours in duration.
Let’s just say you won’t catch me participating. Uphillers are nuts and in crazy good shape.
The Sprint race is a short fast-paced fixed course format consisting of an uphill ski section, a booting (on foot hiking) section, and a descent around race gates. The races ascend up to 262 vertical feet and typically last around 3 minutes in duration. The format consists of a time trial to establish seeding into a bracket in which 6 racers compete against each other in rounds to keep advancing and racing to the final 6, to determine the podium.
The Relay race is a format based on the Sprint, which consists of a team of 3-4 athletes taking turns to complete the course in a continuous circuit.
While ski mountaineering took off in Europe years ago, its recent rise in popularity in the U.S. and other countries, nabbed Olympic attention.
“The USSMA has already been working with the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and we look forward to further engagement as we prepare for the Milano Cortina 2026 winter Olympics. This will begin a new chapter for the sport of Skimo and we look forward to preparing and propelling US athletes to the top ranks. We are currently working on organizational and high performance development plans and will be stepping up funding efforts soon” says Mikulas.