Modern pentathlon body approves obstacle course discipline to replace horse riding

Modern Pentathlon Obstacle Discipline

Modern pentathlon’s international governing body (UIPM) approved the addition of an obstacle course discipline as it bids to stay in the Olympic program.

UIPM adopted the new event by member federations vote at its congress on Saturday, six months after it chose to test out the obstacle discipline from among 60 proposals to replace horse riding.

The sport’s international governing body said last year that horse riding had to be removed to boost the chances of keeping modern pentathlon’s place in the Olympics beyond 2024.

UIPM has said horse riding will remain part of the modern pentathlon at the 2024 Paris Games. The obstacle discipline would make its Olympic debut in 2028, should modern pentathlon be on the program at those Games.

Of the 97 member federations in attendance Saturday, 83 voted and 69 of them voted in favor of the obstacle discipline. Eleven voted against and three abstained.

“The result provides UIPM with a mandate to propose a new-look modern pentathlon – with obstacle discipline replacing riding – to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for inclusion in the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games,” according to a Saturday press release from UIPM.

UIPM previously called it “the biggest shakeup” since the sport made its Olympic debut in 1912.

The sport has been on the Olympic program ever since but was not on the initial sports list for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Neither was boxing nor weightlifting, sports with organizational and doping problems to address. Sports can still be added to the 2028 program as early as next year.

It has been reported that horse riding was encouraged to be replaced from modern pentathlon after an incident of horse abuse at the Tokyo Olympics — a German coach hit a horse that refused to jump — but IOC President Thomas Bach did not mention that in his public comments about the event’s Olympic future last December.

“They must demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and improvements across the areas for safety, accessibility, universality, appeal for youth and general public,” Bach said then.

Star modern pentathletes have voiced disapproval of replacing horse riding with an obstacle discipline. Reigning Olympic champion Joe Choong of Great Britain reportedly said he will quit the sport if and when the change is implemented.

The other modern pentathlon events are fencing, swimming and a combined running and shooting event. Modern pentathlon was created by the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, and has roots in the duties required of a soldier from the late 19th century.

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight


Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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