The US governing body for ski mountaineering is seeking to advance preparations for Milan Cortina 2026 ©Getty Images

The United States Ski Mountaineering Association (USA Skimo) has advanced its preparations for the sport's Winter Olympics debut at Milan Cortina 2026 through an agreement with the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC).

The two bodies have established roles and responsibilities on selecting athletes for Milan Cortina 2026 and competitions within the qualification process.

They have additionally promised to establish an Olympic high-performance centre for ski mountaineering to assist athletes' preparations.

The 2023-2024 ski mountaineering season, set to begin with an International Ski Mountaineering Federation World Cup in the French resort of Val Thorens on November 25, is viewed as a rehearsal for 2024-2025 which will contribute towards Olympic qualification.

USA Skimo executive director Anthony Armstrong believes USOPC support will boost the nation's prospects in a sport where European competition is likely to be very strong.

"Formalising our role with the USOPC represents a true inflection point for our sport," he said.

"The USOPC will provide resources and expertise to our athletes, aspiring athletes, and the US ski mountaineering community

"This partnership will take our sport to the next level of competition and professionalism."

Ski mountaineering is set to share a venue with Alpine skiing in Bormio at Milan Cortina 2026 ©Getty Images
Ski mountaineering is set to share a venue with Alpine skiing in Bormio at Milan Cortina 2026 ©Getty Images

USOPC chief of sport and athlete services Rocky Harris believes ski mountaineering will prove an exciting addition to the Olympic programme.

"Though new to the Olympic Games programme, ski mountaineering is a dynamic, fast-growing sport that also boasts more than a century of tradition," Harris commented.

"We are excited to welcome ski mountaineering onto the Olympic programme and are excited to partner with USSMA to deliver results for Team USA."

Ski mountaineering was approved as an additional sport on the Milan Cortina 2026 programme at the International Olympic Committee Session in Tokyo in 2021.

It is set to share a venue with Alpine skiing at the Pista Stelvio in Bormio.