2026 Winter Olympics add eight events, cut Alpine skiing team event

2026 Winter Olympics
Getty
0 Comments

Eight events have been added to the program for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Ski mountaineering, a new sport added to the 2026 program last year, will have a men’s sprint, women’s sprint and a mixed-gender relay.

New events in existing sports include men’s and women’s dual moguls in freestyle skiing, breaking up the open luge doubles event (where only men have competed) into men’s doubles and women’s doubles, a mixed-gender skeleton team event and a women’s large hill event in ski jumping to match the men’s individual ski jumping program.

The Alpine skiing team event, which debuted at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, has been cut. Also in Alpine skiing, the combined events are being included provisionally on the 2026 program and are subject to further review with a final decision no later than April.

On the Alpine World Cup, there were no combined events either of the last two seasons and there are none planned this upcoming season as more emphasis has been on the newer individual parallel event. The combined is still on the biennial world championships program.

The IOC said that Nordic combined is in a “very concerning situation” for staying on the Olympic program beyond 2026.

The IOC said Nordic combined “had by far the lowest audience numbers” over the last three Olympics. It noted that the 27 medals won in the sport among 2014, 2018 and 2022 were spread across “only” four nations.

Its inclusion in the 2030 Winter Olympics depends on significant developments in global participation and audience.

Nordic combined is the lone Olympic sport without female representation.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) began holding women’s Nordic combined World Cups in December 2020. A women’s event debuted at the world championships in February 2021. FIS hoped it would help lead to 2026 Winter Olympic inclusion.

The IOC chose not to add a women’s event for 2026, citing having “only one world championship to date” that had 10 nations represented and the medals won by one nation (Norway). Karl Stoss, chair of the IOC Olympic program commission, said those numbers do not meet universality criteria.

Nordic combined officials believed that their sport was in danger of being dropped from the Olympic program if the IOC opted against adding a women’s event.

The decisive argument for keeping men’s Nordic combined on the 2026 program without a women’s event was the proximity — male athletes are already preparing for the Games.

Men’s events in Nordic combined, which includes ski jumping and cross-country skiing, have been on the program since the first Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France.

The IOC said the overall event changes will make 2026 the most gender-balanced Winter Games in history, upping female participation from 45.4 percent in 2022 to 47 percent.

Due to event quota changes, the overall number of athletes is expected to remain around 2,900.

ON HER TURF: Women’s Nordic combined shut out of 2026

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
Getty
0 Comments

LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
Getty
0 Comments

Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!