The International Orienteering Federation (IOF) has applied for ski orienteering to be included in the programme of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
In the past few years, ski orienteering has grown considerably in terms of global spread. The growth has been boosted by the inclusion of ski orienteering into the Asian Winter Games and the CISM World Military Winter Games. Some 35 nations are expected to participate in the World Ski Orienteering Championships to be held in Sweden in March 2011.
Ski orienteering is an exciting winter sport that combines extreme physical fitness and cross-country skiing skills with the ability to navigate and make difficult route choices at high speed. The events can be organised in cross-country skiing and biathlon arenas and do not require the creation of any permanent infrastructure.
“We have developed and tested new spectator and media friendly formats. Sprint and sprint relay are intensive competition formats and very well suited for TV broadcast. We have also addressed other development aspects such as the universality of the sport. Today the geographical footprint of ski orienteering is comparable to most other sports on the programme of the Olympic Winter Games”, says IOF President Åke Jacobson.
The IOF Athletes’ Commission for ski orienteering has been closely involved in the development of the new formats.
“Sprint and mixed sprint relay have proven to be extremely attractive competition formats that appeal to the athletes as well as to spectators and media. Our events fit nicely into a 45-minute TV broadcast and they utilise the latest technology such as GPS tracking and biometric data to bring the drama of the competition to the spectators”, says Eivind Tonna, Chairman of the Athlete’s Commission and continues:
“Ski orienteering requires the combination of ultimate physical and mental performance – endurance, speed and skiing technique, navigation and route choice – which is quite exceptional. I believe that, given the opportunity, we will show that ski orienteering provides added value to the Olympic Winter Games.”