February 18, 2022
By Mitch Phillips
ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) – Norway signed off another dominant display at the Olympic Games Nordic combined competition with a crushing victory in the large hill/4x5km relay on Thursday, then said they hoped women would get a chance to compete alongside them in four years’ time.
Nordic combined remains the only Winter Olympic discipline where women are not allowed to compete, despite them now having a world championships and World Cup circuit. Women’s cross country has been in the Games since 1952, while ski jumping was added in 2014.
The International Olympic Committee decided in 2018 not to add women’s Nordic combined events to the 2022 programme, saying the sport was not developed enough, though its potential inclusion for Milan-Cortina in 2026 is expected to be discussed later this year.
Asked if he would like to see women’s events included in 2026, relay gold medallist Espen Bjoernstad said: “It would be really good, it would definitely increase the product of Nordic combined and I think it’s a must-have to have the women’s in the next Olympics.
“It would be really fun as well to compete in a mixed team event. We have only three events it would be a pleasure if we could compete in a mixed team with a woman as well.”
The men have large hill, normal hill and team relay to fight for. Ski jumping added a mixed team event for the first time at the Beijing Games.
The addition of Nordic combined would probably further Norway’s dominance of the Winter Olympic medal table. They took a clean sweep of the medals in last year’s world championship and currently fill the top three places in the World Cup standings – led by the remarkable Gyda Hansen, who has won all six events held so far.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Michael Perry)