The International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF), founded in 2008, is the world governing body for the winter sport discipline of ski mountaineering, often also referred to as skimo. It involves climbing difficult mountainous terrains either with skis or by carrying them, and then skiing down to the finish line. Traditionally when skiing first became more popular, the same type of wooden ski was used for cross-country, uphill or downhill. Today we have a specific design particular to the discipline. Generally, Telemark skis are preferred as the heel of the ski boot is free to lift from the ski, making ascents easier.
At the 1924 Winter Olympics, the official event was military patrol, which was a team sport where skiers participated in cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering, and rifle shooting. It also featured as a demonstration sport in 1928, 1936 and 1948. As the name indicates, the event was usually between the military units of countries. It is believed that military patrol gave rise to the modern sport of biathlon we know today. Biathlon involves cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.
ISMF is also responsible for ensuring the lightweight equipment the skiers use is of the highest quality and passes strict safety standards. Teams are the most traditional part of the sport and are made up of the same gender, age group, and usually two to three athletes. Each race will include at least three ascents and descents and with longer races, can feature over several days. Teamwork is essential when transiting the crest of a mountain as athletes make use of crampons, cords, and harnesses as they ascend. Descending a mountain will always be off-piste. For individual skiers, the race has features from the team event. The cord and harness are not required, but an athlete may still be required to use crampons in the more difficult areas.
The Sprint Race is based on completing the total course in approximately three minutes. There are initial qualifying rounds, after which the athletes face each other in heats of six. The Relay consists of a small team with each athlete completing a circuit once. The Vertical is an uphill race only which normally does not exceed a height of 700m (about 2296.59 ft). As a result of the many events, access for both genders and the appeal to several age groups, ski mountaineering continues to grow stronger and stronger in popularity. ISMF is based in Mondovi, Italy.