The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has unanimously approved the addition of Ski Mountaineering to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milano Cortina, Italy.
From the President of the U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association (USSMA), Ram Mikulas, "This is fantastic news! We are very excited to hear about the announcement to include ski mountaineering in the Milano Cortina 2026 winter Olympics. We are very thankful to the IOC, International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF), Italy and everyone that helped make this possible."
Ski Mountaineering is a competitive winter sport which includes multiple race formats of individual, vertical, teams, sprint, and relay races.
The inclusion of ski mountaineering on the 2026 program will consist of:
• Five new medal events: two men’s events (sprint/individual), two women’s events (sprint/individual) and one mixed-gender relay event.
• An athlete quota of 48 (24 men/24 women) falling within the overall quota framework of 2,900 athletes.
The Individual event is a mass start race that follows an established trail which skiers race up and back down challenging mountain terrain while passing through a series of checkpoints, using special lightweight ski touring equipment and techniques. The races ascend between 4,300 to 6,200 vertical feet, depending on the category, and typically lasts around one and a half to two hours in duration.
The Sprint race is a short, fast-paced, fixed course format consisting of an uphill ski section, a booting (on-foot hiking) section, and a descent around race gates. The races ascend up to 262 vertical feet and typically last around three minutes in duration. The format consists of a time trial to establish seeding into a bracket in which six racers compete against each other in rounds to keep advancing and racing to the final six, to determine the podium.
The Relay race is a format based on the Sprint, which consists of a team of three-to-four athletes taking turns to complete the course in a continuous circuit.
While ski mountaineering has been popular in Europe for many years, the growth in North America and other countries has all helped establish “Skimo” as a unique and respected sport worldwide. This growth has been a catalyst to help bring it to the Olympic stage.
“The USSMA has already been working with the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and we look forward to further engagement as we prepare for the Milano Cortina 2026 winter Olympics. This will begin a new chapter for the sport of Skimo and we look forward to preparing and propelling US athletes to the top ranks. We are currently working on organizational and high performance development plans and will be stepping up funding efforts soon” says Mikulas.