A new winter sport is coming to the Olympics. And organizers have just announced its first qualifying events for U.S. athletes.
The United States Ski Mountaineering Association (USA Skimo) has announced that it will host two qualifying events for ski mountaineering athletes in December. Qualifying events are the first step for athletes to make it onto the U.S. National Team. National Team members will serve a term from December 2021 to April 2022.
The International Olympic Committee made an announcement earlier this summer that skimo would be at the 2026 Olympics in Italy, but no qualifying or team details were available.
“While skimo has long been a niche sport in the United States, the sport has seen significant participation increases across a variety of geographic regions and age groups,” USA Skimo wrote today.
Skimo races involve athletes traversing alpine courses with varying uphill and downhill terrain. Races can involve skinning, bootpacking, or both, and can span over 25 miles.
The two qualifying events will take place December 10 and 12 in Colorado. One will be a vertical race, and one will be an individual race.
“The growth in the U.S. and other countries has all helped establish ski mountaineering as a unique and respected sport worldwide,” said USA Skimo president Ram Mikulas. “This growth has been a catalyst to help bring skimo to the Olympic stage.”
Want to race yourself? Check out USA Skimo’s 2021-2022 race schedule.