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Women’s Nordic Combined World Cup a Step Towards Olympics

12/17/2020 11:31AM ● By USA Nordic

USA Nordic athletes stand ready for the debut of the women’s FIS Nordic Combined World Cup in Ramsau, Austria, showing off their new Podiumwear uniforms. Team includes (from left) Tara Geraghty-Moats, Alexa Brabek, Annika Malacinski and Tess Arnone. (Tomas Matura)

RAMSAU, Austria - Four American women, led by two-time Continental Cup champion Tara Geraghty-Moats (West Fairlee, Vt.), will make history this weekend participating in the first ever International Ski Federation (FIS) nordic combined World Cup competition. The Dec. 18 event in Ramsau is another stepping stone for the hopeful introduction of women’s nordic combined into the Olympic Winter Games program. 

The event was originally scheduled in early December at Lillehammer, Norway but delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

FIS initiated a Continental Cup program in the 2018 season, with a plan to debut a World Cup level tour in 2020-21, along with inclusion in the 2021 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships this February in Oberstdorf, Germany. 

Geraghty-Moats, who won tour titles in 2019 and 2020, will headline four Americans. Also competing will be Tess Arnone, Alexa Brabec and Annika Malacinski (all Steamboat Springs, Colo.).

“This is a very notable milestone for women's nordic combined to eventually be included in the Olympics,” said Geraghty-Moats. “It's much more favorable for us to have both a World Championships and a World Cup tour. And having a World Cup enables the field to grow and for us to prove that the sport is at a high level and show the world what our potential is.”

In the past two years, 17 different nations have scored Continental Cup points. 

“Over the past two years on the Continental Cup, there's been more competitors, more nations, and the level of competition has gotten higher. It's it's been really cool to see that transformation and see it happen so quickly,” she said.

National ski federations like Austria, Germany and Norway are investing in their women’s teams with larger coaching and wax teams.

Nordic combined remains the only event in the Olympics without women’s participation. USA Nordic officials see the World Cup and World Championship inclusion as important steps, but are continuing to push for a women’s Olympic event.

“Over the past three years of the women’s Continental Cup we’ve seen tremendous growth in both the quality of competition and number of nations,” said Olympic champion and USA Nordic Executive Director Billy Demong. “The World Cup debut is important, but it should be seen in the context of a step towards Olympic inclusion on the 2026 program in Milan-Cortina. The women have shown the depth and quality of athleticism in their sport and should be provided with that opportunity.”

As the two-time defending champion, Geraghty-Moats’ young USA Nordic teammates are looking up to her for leadership. “I’m really trying to just be their teammate and vice versa,” she said. “They’re working really hard and they have really great attitudes. They're just looking to do the best they can. It's really been amazing to have them here.”

It’s unclear now what the rest of the season will bring with an uncertain schedule leading up to the Feb. 27 World Championship debut for women’s nordic combined in Oberstdorf, Germany. While COVID is clearly impacting schedules and travel, Geraghty-Moats has felt comfortable.

“We are able to move around comfortably and safely, which is really important,” she said. “A huge thanks goes out to everyone trying to keep us safe - FIS and USA Nordic. There definitely is a lot of looking at regulations and having to plan ahead. And it takes a lot more energy and a lot more planning. But life is surprisingly normal here.”

Women’s ski jumping will also open its 2020-21 season in Ramsau with five Americans competing. Making the start for the USA will be Annika Belshaw (Steamboat Springs, Colo.), Anna Hoffman (Madison, Wis.), Paige Jones (Park City, Utah), Nina Lussi (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Logan Sankey (Steamboat 
Springs, Colo.).

In men’s nordic combined in Ramsau, Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and Ben Loomis (Eau Claire, Wis.) will start in the second weekend for the men’s World Cup tour.

NBC's Peacock TV is providing live streaming of many ski jumping and nordic combined events during the season, as well as on-demand viewing. It's available anywhere in the USA, just $4.99/month for Peacock Premium with a free seven day trial.

The women’s ski jumping competition round on Friday will be broadcast live on Peacock TV beginning at 3:30 a.m. EST. Peacock TV will also stream women’s nordic combined with times to be determined.

Ramsau, Austria
Thursday, Dec. 17

Women’s ski jumping qualifying

Friday, Dec. 18
Women’s nordic combined (Peacock TV - 3:30 a.m./7:45 a.m. EST)
Women’s ski jumping (Peacock TV - 3:30 a.m. EST)

Saturday, Dec. 19
Men’s nordic combined (Peacock TV - 4:30 a.m./8:15 a.m. EST)

Sunday, Dec. 20
Men’s nordic combined (Peacock TV - 5:00 a.m./9:15 a.m. EST)