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Without women away from the window (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

Wolfgang Grebien/GEPA pictures/imago images

The NK women on the rise: Annika Malacinski (USA) at the World Cup in Ramsau (12/17/2021)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) headed by its President Thomas Bach from Tauberbischofsheim will make a groundbreaking decision on June 24th, 128 years to the day since it was founded. Will women be allowed to compete in the Nordic Combined (NC), which consists of ski jumping and cross-country skiing and has been part of the Olympic program since the first Winter Games in Chamonix/France in 1924, for the first time at the next Winter Games in 2026, or will this Olympic classic soon disappear from the scene?

»You can ask the question that is now being decided on in principle. With its decision, the IOC will give an answer as to what this classic and thus this traditional sport is worth to it. Nordic combined is one of the origins of the Olympic Winter Games and embodies winter sports tradition as well as the Olympic idea in its purest form,” explains NK national coach Hermann Weinbuch jW. From this perspective, according to the 62-year-old, who has been responsible for this division at the German Ski Association (DSV) since 1996, there could only be a vote in favor of including women. Especially since the International Ski Federation (FIS) has already prepared the admission for the 2026 Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in the recent past with numerous competition formats up to the Youth Olympic Games 2020 and the World Cup premiere in 2021 in Oberstdorf.

Not only in the DSV area with currently eight top athletes and half a dozen in the connecting squads, but also in Italy, the USA, in the Baltic States, in Russia and Belarus the NK women are on the rise and would, according to Weinbuch, »our sport internationally very much enrich”. If the IOC were to deny them access to the Olympic venues as a last step, for Weinbuch this would not only be a clear departure from the principle of equal rights, but also “a sign” to the Olympic future of the sport as a whole: “That would be their gradual death. «

The lynchpin here is the number of participants, which recently exploded in winter due to the inclusion of snowboarding and freestyle skiing in the Olympic program. All in all, around a third of all medals at the Winter Games are now awarded in the disciplines of the »young wild ones« as a concession to new developments and markets. It cannot be ruled out that the historically established nordic combined skiers will now pay the price for this modernization. In any case, the NK scene is shaking. “It has become a competitive situation with the other sports,” says Hermann Weinbuch and, on the other hand, speaks of a maximum of 30 or 40 additional athletes who would travel if the NK women were given the right to start in the Olympics. That is not a large number and certainly not in relation to the historical roots of this sport.

For Sascha Kreibich, who has been looking after the combined athletes at the Leipzig Institute for Applied Training Science for years as naturally as the team around Beijing Olympic champion Vinzenz Geiger or Eric Frenzel, who won gold in Sochi in 2014 and twice in Pyeongchang in 2018, there is still the variant »of half a broken leg«: »Perhaps the IOC will postpone its decision and try again before the 2030 Games.« Hermann Weinbuch, however, does not really like such a »time game«. The »eternal national coach« expects a clear commitment to Olympic equality and thus to the future of Nordic combined on Thursday. For him it is also an affair of the heart: »This sport is the most difficult, most exciting and greatest. The Olympic family cannot possibly do without this.«

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