In a move that is sure to usher in a new generation of spandex touting skimo fiends with otherwordly VO2 maximums and skinny ski prowess, the International Olympic Council announced last week that objects are in motion for ski mountaineering to have it’s debut at the 2026 Olympic games.
This is big news for a sport that has long been fringe, particularly in the United States. In Europe, however, the roots are long and deep. It seems only fitting that the inaugural Olympic showing for the sport will take place in Milan-Cortina.
There will be five medal events — sprint and individual for men and women, along with a mixed gender relay.
Skimo had a test run in the 2020 Youth Winter Olympic Games, during which Italian athletes dominated by claiming five of the medals. The U.S. has its own rising stars, notably youth prodigy Grace Staberg and George Beck. And let’s not forget Cam Smith who basically obliterated all competition in every race he entered this season.
Thinking back to the Sunlight Heathen race this past winter, I was amazed at the youth racers in the field. They started in the heat after mine and yet I was being passed by clumps of them only a few miles in. Those of us who came to the sport later in our lives might be a little too rusty when qualifiers come around five years from now, but for the up-and-comers, the future of skimo racing is bright.
Manasseh Franklin is a writer, editor and big fan of walking uphill. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction and environment and natural resources from the University of Wyoming and especially enjoys writing about glaciers. Find her other work in Alpinist, Adventure Journal, Rock and Ice, Aspen Sojourner, AFAR, Trail Runner and Western Confluence.