The Andorran stage of the SKIMO World Cup, organised by the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF), is the second of five stages of the competition: it was preceded by a stage in Aussois, France. The subsequent stages are Berchtesgaden (Germany), Hebei Province (China) and Madonna di Campiglio (Italy). The President of the Andorran Ski Mountaineering Federation (Federació Andorrana de Muntanyisme), chairman of the organizing committee and ISMF member, Jaume Esteve, spoke about the details of the organization of the Andorran competition, as well as the evolution of this sport:
“This year we are holding the tenth anniversary of SKIMO competition, which includes vertical and individual races. The vertical race took place today, January 25, with the participation of 109 athletes. The individual race with 121 athletes will be held tomorrow. The participating countries include Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, and the USA.
Both competitions are held, for the first time, only in Arinsal (unlike previous Fon Blanca competitions, which took place at two ski resorts – Arcalis and Arinsal). For us – the Federation of ski mountaineering – it is important to find one partner to simplify all organizational issues. What I heard from the results of today’s competition is that the referees, ISMF members, and the athletes themselves liked the new route. Despite the fact that we had to use the so-called “Plan B” – initially it was planned to lay a route to the highest point of Andorra – Peak Comapedrosa (2943 m). This is why this year’s competition is called – Comapedrosa Andorra.
It was a very ambitious plan. We proposed a route of incredible beauty, it was approved by the ISMF. However, this week there was a very heavy snowfall. At the last moment, on the eve of the competition, we weighed everything and came to the conclusion that climbing Comapedrosa was ruled out. Safety, of course, comes first – and not only that of the athletes but also volunteers, as well as fans who came to support the participants in the competition.
“Plan B” is also a technically challenging and very beautiful route. It includes two peaks: Pic Alt de la Capa (2572 m) and Pic Negre (2642 m). Thus, the vertical race included both an alpine part and a real mountain route, especially loved by athletes.
I can say that over the past 10 years, this sport has seriously evolved. And it is becoming more and more popular every year. I remember when I was 20 years old, I practiced ski mountaineering and I was alone! Nobody went skiing with me in the mountains, everyone preferred traditional ski slopes. Today, fans of this type of sport can be found everywhere. I mean not only professionals or lovers of a high level, but also those who take walks in the areas of ski stations without going far into the mountains. Although in the mountains, the number of people practicing ski mountaineering is also increasing more and more.
The truth is that the athletes who compete here today are the “top”, the highest level on a global scale. After all, each country selects the participants for the Championship. Ski mountaineering has a chance to become a full-fledged Olympic discipline. ISMF managed to include SKIMO in the list of disciplines of the Youth Olympic Games, which will be held in Lausanne (Switzerland) in 2020. And this is our first victory. We continue to work actively to ensure that this sport is included in the list of sports of the 2026 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Italy (Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo).
Once again, SKIMO athletes have the highest level of training, compared to other Olympic disciplines.
If we talk about the commercial component – the approximate budget for the organization of competitions (including the Internet, telephone, television, logistics and other expenses) is about 200,000 euros. The cash prizes for the winners are 1200 Euro – 1st place, 1000 Euro – 2nd place, 800 Euro – 3rd place (category men and women). The prize pool for juniors is slightly lower.
Summing up, I would like to mention plans for next year. We want to make climbing the peak of Comapedrosa a reality and continue to do everything in our power to ensure that the competition is perfect from the organizational point of view. ”