Nordic combined world champion draws on beard to protest no Olympic women’s event

Gyda Westvold Hansen
Getty
0 Comments

Norwegian Gyda Westvold Hansen, the first world champion in women’s Nordic combined, competed in a domestic event with a drawn-on beard on Saturday to protest the lack of an Olympic women’s Nordic combined event.

Westvold Hansen and other women also raised their ski poles at the start line to form Xs. Top female Nordic combined skiers have used the hashtag #noeXception on social media in speaking out against a June decision not to add women’s Nordic combined to the Winter Olympics for 2026.

“We think it’s absurd that you have to look like this or have a beard to be allowed to compete in the Olympics. We hope to do something about it,” Westvold Hansen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK, according to a Reuters translation. “This is important for recruitment and girls to want to continue with the sport, which is so much fun. It is extremely important for the sport.”

Nordic combined is the lone Olympic sport without female representation.

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 all three medals won by one nation (Norway). Karl Stoss, chair of the IOC Olympic program commission, said those numbers do not meet universality criteria.

The first women’s Nordic combined World Cup event was in December 2020. The number of scheduled World Cups this season increases from 10 to 11. A mixed-gender team event will be held at the world championships for the first time, in addition to the one individual women’s event that debuted at worlds in 2021.

Nordic combined officials believed that their sport was in danger of being dropped from the Olympic program altogether 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.

The IOC said men’s Nordic combined “had by far the lowest audience numbers” of sports 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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

0 Comments

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!