With women’s Nordic combined left off of 2022 Olympics slate, Parkite may be left out in the cold
She’s the best women’s Nordic combined skier in the world. But she might not have the opportunity to showcase her talents on the world’s biggest stage.
For Parkite Tara Geraghty-Moats, winning every Nordic combined event she competed in during the 2019 calendar year was extremely satisfying — but a larger battle on the horizon has currently taken over her focus. It was in July of 2018 when Geraghty-Moats found out that, despite women’s Nordic combined slated to be added to the FIS World Cup lineup in the 2020-2021 season, the sport would not be among the events at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
That means that Geraghty-Moats, who has won 13 consecutive Continental Cups — currently the highest level of competition for women’s Nordic combined — might never get to represent the United States at the Winter Olympics. She’ll be 32 by the 2026 Games, and the prospect of possibly missing out on vying for Olympic gold was difficult for her to accept at first.
“When I first heard that it wasn’t selected for 2022, I cried and I was really pissed off,” she said. “There was a good 24 hours of me just being in a bad mood, but then I had to get over it and move on. I’ve now really tried to focus on what I now have and what’s now open to me, while also helping the sport continue to expand and succeed.”
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But now, what does the world’s top-ranked women’s Nordic combined skier do? She’s done sulking and back competing with an eye on the future — the sport’s first world championships will take place in 2021, along with the World Cup circuit set to begin next year.
“Right now if I can stay healthy and strong, I should be in good shape to win some medals on the new circuit next year and hopefully at world championships, and that’s my main goal,” Geraghty-Moats said. “But at the same time, I’m trying to grow this sport. We have so much support from our national team, from the guys who compete, so this is a step in the right direction. … But it’s not enough.”
While the World Cup circuit and world championships are positive signs regarding the growth of the sport, it still wasn’t enough to convince the International Olympic Committee to put women’s Nordic combined in the upcoming Winter Games. IOC officials have cited what they claim is an overall lack of quality competition.
“I take seriously the role that I have to get us in the Olympics and promote gender equality,” Geraghty-Moats said. “I was frustrated with the overall sexism in the sports world, but having the first World Cup and the fact that FIS is working so hard to (boost) Nordic combined is really exciting. … So I’m just focusing on my role and the positives.
“The fight for women’s Nordic combined is just beginning,” she added, “and I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to represent all the women who compete in it.”
Armed with that knowledge, and knowing that next season has the opportunity to be a big one for the sport, Geraghty-Moats finds herself in the role of helping lead the fight for gender equality in Nordic combined — a role that will continue when she serves as a youth ambassador for the sport at the upcoming Winter Youth Olympics, beginning Jan. 9 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Bill Demong, president of USA Nordic, said she’s a perfect face for the sport.
“I think Tara is someone who takes her role as youth ambassador very seriously, because she’s serious about growing the sport,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for someone to be a better role model and usher in the next generation of great athletes. She’s not letting the news of Nordic combined get her down, it’s only making her fight that much harder, and we are right there by her side.”
It’s an interesting spot for her to be in as she’s not only taking time out of her own training schedule to mentor the youth but helping prepare the next generation to take the reigns of the sport and, potentially, knock her off her pedestal as best in the world.
“It’s weird because I’m super honored to go and help the next generation and be an ambassador for the sport,” Geraghty-Moats said. “But I’m also in a way helping them to one day pass me and be better than me. … And that can affect my future in making an Olympic Games. I like to keep things real at the same time, so I’m all about helping but I’m also going to keep competing.”
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.