Ski Mountaineering

Ares Torra Gendrau (L) of Spain and Lisa Rettensteiner of Austria compete in Women's Individual in Ski Mountaineering during day 1 of the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics on January 10, 2020 in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland.
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Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026

Sci Alpinismo

Ski Mountaineering

Ski mountaineering becomes an Olympic discipline. Milano Cortina 2026 writes a page in the history of the Winter Games by adding this sport to the programme. Here is everything you need to know.

Sci Alpinismo


Ski mountaineering is an exciting, exhausting, and adrenaline-filled sport that allows you to connect with nature and pristine landscapes. It is particularly popular in Italy, with deep historical and sporting roots in the Alpine regions. It will debut in the Olympic programme at the Milano Cortina 2026 Games, with competitions featuring three events:

  • Men's Sprint
  • Women's Sprint
  • Mixed Relay

The races will take place in Bormio, in the Valtellina.


Image of Bormio. Click on the image to find out more about the area.

Olympic History

This sport has grown in popularity worldwide in recent years, judging by the number of international events held in many countries, including Switzerland, France, Italy, North America, South America, Russia, Scandinavia, China, South Korea and Japan. The first Ski Mountaineering World Championships were held in 2002 in France, and this international event is now held every two years, alternating with continental championships. A World Cup circuit with a minimum of five stages is also arranged every year. Ski mountaineering is governed by the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF), which has 38 affiliated national federations. Ski mountaineering was part of the programme of the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics and will be part of the programme at the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics. Italy is one of the leading nations in this sport, with several international wins in major competitions over the last 10 years.

Basic Rules

The sprint race consists of an ascent and descent. There are three stages in the ascent. The athlete makes the first on foot up steps with the skis attached to the backpack. The skins are then attached to reach the top, where the skins are removed for the descent to the finish line. It is held in various elimination rounds up to the final, in which the medals are awarded. The normal duration of the race is around 3.5 minutes per heat.

The mixed relay consists of two ascents plus a section on foot with skis attached to the backpack for each ascent and two descents.


Specific equipment is required for ski mountaineering to ensure safety and performance. Athletes need special skis  that are lighter than downhill skis and equipped with movable bindings to allow for proper joint movement, as in cross-country skiing. To allow for forward gliding, avoid backward sliding and grip the snow during push-off, synthetic skins (sealskin was once used) are placed on the bottom of the skis. The skins are removed during the descent.


Here are the answers to your questions.

  • What is the difference between ski mountaineering and off-piste skiing?

  • Who is one of the most popular male Italian ski mountaineers?

  • Who is one of the greatest female ski mountaineers of all time?

  • Which countries have the strongest ski mountaineering tradition?

  • Where will the ski mountaineering competitions at Milano Cortina 2026 be held?

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