Looking forward to the Milan/Cortina 2026 Olympics, as reported earlier, there will not be a team parallel. Also, the traditional alpine combined is doubtful. However, emerging from the Alpine Athletes Committee is a fresh idea: a team combined.
Elimination of team parallel explained
The FIS Council meetings in Zurich clarified the exclusion of the team parallel from the next Olympics. The elimination is due to logistical challenges stemming from the distance between the men’s and women’s venues.
Patrick Riml, Alpine Director for the U.S., says, “It is disappointing that we lost the team parallel. It has been a well-received and exciting part of the World Championships and Olympics. But I understand the reasoning. I am, however, sure we will revisit the issue for 2030.”
With the men in Bormio and the women in Cortina d’Ampezzo, the distance between venues was a hurdle that the FIS and Olympic Committee decided to avoid.
Alpine combined losing relevance
The alpine combined prospects are also bleak. The IOC is concerned that only 26 women and 27 men entered the event in Beijing. Notably, the U.S. men, who had significant success in the event in the past, did not even enter a single skier. However, the U.S. women’s team did enter three skiers, including PyeongChang silver medalist Mikaela Shiffrin.
The team combined a fresh new idea
However, we have learned that Verena Stuffer (ITA) an Alpine Athlete Committee member has proposed an exciting substitute.
She and fellow committee member Leif Haugen (NOR) have proposed a team combined. They suggest a women’s team combined in Cortina d’Ampezzo and a men’s in Bormio.
A downhill racer would race a DH and a slalom skier would race a SL. Combining the two times would determine the winners.
Haugen comments, “We would see the best downhill and slalom skiers from each country. Subsequently, it would be a dramatic event for both spectators and athletes. Additionally, it would provide another medal opportunity.”
Consequently, the FIS and the IOC believe this could be an excellent possibility to provide a compelling form of alpine team competition.
It is easy for alpine ski racing fans to be excited about both racing venues. Cortina d’Ampezzo and Bormio are premier sites and experienced race hosts. Accordingly, using their exceptional downhill courses in another race is a welcome possibility.
Riml and Haugen like team combined
U.S. Alpine director, Patrick Riml, is excited about the possibilities of the team combined. Riml says, “We support this athlete initiative. It could be an exciting event. After the last Downhill skier, the first SL skier could start almost immediately. The quick turnaround between events would provide great entertainment for the fans, especially those attending the event.”
Riml also points out that the event would be very competitive. He continues, “We would see the best downhill and slalom skiers from each nation throughout the event. Flipping the top 30 from the Downhill would mean the event would have sustained excitement, nearly identical to a two-run race.”
Haugen concludes, “Verena has offered a great solution. It has not been easy to see the alpine combined’s validity in its current form. Very few people in the world can ski both world-class speed and slalom. The team combined, however, will not only provide a medal opportunity for athletes, but If the FIS and IOC accept the proposed event, we will see the best doing what they do best in a team situation.”