In a recent Instagram post (June 21, 2023), the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced that permanent changes have been made to the “equality” in race distances for men and women in both FIS sanctioned races and those races set to be staged at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in 2026. The post included the following wording:
Equal distances has taken another step, a step that involves the Olympics in Milano Cortina 2026!🙌🏼
The decision was made yesterday by IOC – and this will also be the program in future. 😉 FIS
It’s been interesting to witness FIS’ responses to public sentiment on this issue, especially when support for the idea has not proven to be universal; some men are in favor of it it, some women oppose it, coaches seem to be split in their opinions. There had been criticism for 2023 FIS World Cross Country Championship distances being un-equal. In the United States, considerable attention was also paid to the NCAA’s decision to keep un-equal distances in the 2023 NCAA championships. Both those instances (FIS and NCAA) cited logistical and contractual obligations to explain away their failures to comply with equal-distance protocols . . . and both promised to “do better.” Perhaps this is FIS’ attempt to live up to that promise.
Some questions remain regarding the future of equal-distance policy compliance: will women’s race distances generally be increased to equal the men’s, or will men’s race distances be shortened to match the women’s? Either way, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has now confirmed the distances to be contested in the Winter Games. Likewise, FIS has announced schedules and distances for World Cup events in 2023-2024.