The FISU Winter Games are getting bigger as the Organising Committee of the Torino 2025 FISU World University Games has announced ski mountaineering and ski orienteering will both be added as sports to its programme, following FISU’s formal approval this week.
For ski mountaineering, this comes after it was added as a recognised sport by FISU during the Executive Committee meeting in Chengdu, China in July. Being a recognised sport opened the door for ski mountaineering events to be held under the FISU banner, such as at the Torino 2025 FISU Games. In November, this partnership was formalised by the signing of a memorandum of understanding between FISU and the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF).
Ski mountaineering sees athletes ski uphill and downhill using mountaineering skills to race through snow covered, mountainous terrain and can be traced back to the prehistoric need to effectively move over hilly and mountainous winter landscapes. It is the 78th FISU recognised sport and will see its first endorsed competition take place at the Jennerstier event in Berchtesgaden, Germany this upcoming February. Student athletes there will compete in a vertical race that officially welcomes the sport to the FISU programme.
At the Torino 2025 FISU Games, sprint and vertical races will be held for women and men, as well as a mixed relay race. Competition will be held in Sestriere, which has historical FISU roots having hosted the 4th Winter Universiade in 1966.
“The long process of evaluation and good collaboration with ISMF (International Ski Mountaineering Federation) showed us that this sport is very popular in many winter countries. Being part of the programme of the Torino 2025 FISU Winter Games will create a good legacy for university sport itself. We are sure that Torino Organising Committee, together with FISU, has made a good, long-lasting decision to contribute to development of this sport. And to host it in Sestriere Village is to remember Winter Universiade from 1966 and we all will be happy to see this ski resort as part of the Torino 2025 FISU Winter Games,” said FISU Games Winter Director Milan Augustin.
Ski orienteering will make its second appearance at the FISU Games having been on the programme in Krasnoyarsk, Russia in 2019. This endurance winter sport combines cross-country skiing and navigation on groomed cross-country ski tracks across rough terrain. It balances an athlete’s ability to choose the best routes using their technical skiing skills as well as a need for physical endurance and strength.
The 2024 FISU Championship Ski Orienteering will be held in Lenzerheide, Switzerland 12-16 January. This will be the fourth edition with prior editions held in Tula, Russia in 2016, Tartu, Estonia in 2018, and most recently in Jachymov, Czechia in 2022. The sport will also become a FISU Winter Games compulsory sport starting in 2027.
For the Torino 2025 FISU Games, women’s and men’s sprint races and a mixed sprint relay will be held with all competition taking place in Pragelato. It will also host cross-country skiing and biathlon events and is no stranger to welcoming major international competition having been the venue for cross-country skiing at the 2007 Torino Winter Universiade and at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
“Ski orienteering was, for the first time, part of sports programme at the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade in Russia. After several FISU World University Championships it will become a compulsory sport for FISU Winter Games starting in 2027 and we are very proud of it. Long-lasting cooperation with IOF (International Orienteering Federation) has been fruitful,” Augustin added.
President of the World University Games Winter Torino 2025, Alessandro Ciro Sciretti stated, “The Torino 2025 FISU Games are further enriched thanks to collaboration between our Committee and FISU that has led to the entry of ski mountaineering, which will be held in Sestriere and ski orienteering, to be held in Pragelato. So, this makes Sestriere part of the family of the host cities of the FISU Games, together with Torino, Bardonecchia, Pinerolo, Pragelato and Torre Pellice. This is a very welcome return, with historical significance since a winter edition of the Universiade bore the name of Sestriere in 1966. The RoadTO2025 continues to add crucial pieces.”
Fabrizio Ricca, Regional Councillor for Sport of Regione Piemonte, added, “The enlargement of the FISU Games to Sestriere and the addition of two disciplines such as ski mountaineering and ski orienteering prove that our bet was right from the start and that Piemonte is the right region in which to host this event. We are certain that our mountains will be an exceptional discovery for all the athletes who will participate in the FISU Games of Torino 2025.”