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

Gyda Westvold Hansen
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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.

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

2026 Winter Olympics
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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

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U.S. Olympic Nordic combined team finalized

FIS World Cup Nordic Combined Men Klingenthal - Individual Gundersen HS140/10km
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The five-man U.S. Olympic Nordic combined roster was completed Wednesday with the announcement that 2018 Olympian Jasper Good received the last spot.

Previously, three-time Olympian Taylor Fletcher, plus 2018 Olympian Ben Loomis and first-time Olympians Stephen Schumann and Jared Shumate qualified — Fletcher by winning the Olympic Trials and Loomis, Schumann and Shumate by their international results this season.

The fifth and final spot was a selection committee pick.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for 2022 Winter Olympics

All of the U.S. Olympic Nordic combined medals came at the 2010 Vancouver Games — Bill Demong‘s gold, Johnny Spillane‘s two silvers and a team silver.

Fletcher is the last member of the 2010 roster still competing (though he wasn’t selected to compete in the team event in Vancouver).

The best U.S. finish in Nordic combined in 2018 was 10th in the team event. The last time an American finished in the top 10 individually on the World Cup was nearly four years ago.

Nordic combined is the lone Olympic sport without female representation, though a women’s event could be added for the 2026 Olympics in Italy.

In recent years, Norway has challenged Germany for Nordic combined supremacy. The Norwegians won the team event at last year’s world championships. Norwegian Jarl Magnus Riiber has won seven of the 12 individual World Cups this season and the last three World Cup season titles.

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