Olympics or not, Tara Geraghty-Moats is making nordic combined more equitable

Tara Geraghty-Moats is the favorite as women's nordic combined makes its debut at the 2021 World Championships
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This story is the fourth in an On Her Turf series called “Groundbreakers,” which highlights female athletes who compete in sports or events that 1) are primarily contested by men or 2) aren’t currently open to women at the highest level. Today’s story features Tara Geraghty-Moats, who competes in nordic combined. On Friday, Geraghty-Moats will be competing in the first ever women’s nordic combined World Cup. She spoke with On Her Turf in October about her personal journey in the sport and her goals for the future. 

A brief history of women at the Olympic Games

When the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896, 241 athletes – all of them men – traveled in Athens to compete in 43 events. It was only four years later that the first women’s events were held; 22 women competed at the 1900 Paris Games in two events: tennis and golf. 

In the 116 years since women first competed at the Games, the Olympic program has shifted and evolved to include more sports, though men’s events were almost always added before the corresponding women’s competition. Men’s gymnastics is one of the five original Olympic sports, while women’s gymnastics debuted in 1928. Men’s soccer was first played at the 1900 Games, but 96 years would pass before female soccer players first walked onto the Olympic pitch. Men’s boxers threw their first punches in 1904; 108 years later, women finally entered the Olympic ring. Thanks to the addition of women’s boxing, the 2012 London Olympics marked the first summer Games in which women competed in all of the same sports as men.

But these days, there is still one Olympic sport that is open to men, but not women: nordic combined, a winter sport that includes both ski jumping and cross-country skiing. It is one of six sports that has been contested at every Winter Olympics in history. 

For most of the last 96 years, women’s nordic combined wasn’t part of the Olympic conversation because women’s ski jumping wasn’t part of the conversation. So when women’s ski jumping was added to the Olympic program for the 2014 Sochi Games, the path for women’s nordic combined finally seemed clear.

In the years since, women’s nordic combined has made notable progress. In October 2017, the U.S. held its first ever women’s nordic combined national championships, with Nina Lussi claiming the top spot on the podium. In 2018, FIS (the sport’s international governing body) introduced a women’s Continental Cup (a step below the World Cup). And earlier this year, the 2020 Youth Olympic Games featured a women’s event

On Friday, the next notable box will be checked when women’s nordic combined holds its first World Cup. The pre-event favorite? American Tara Geraghty-Moats

Nordic beginnings

Geraghty-Moats was raised in West Fairlee, Vermont, a town of 600 that is just over the New Hampshire border. She grew up in an athletic family; her mom was a mountain biker and runner, while her dad was an alpine ski racer.

“I did pretty much all the outdoor sports I could,” she explains. Even still, “From a very early age, I wanted to do nordic combined.”

Because there was no nordic combined development pipeline for women, Geraghty-Moats originally focused on ski jumping. But after sustaining a knee injury at age 16, she decided to pursue biathlon instead. She was a member of the U.S. junior national team from 2011-14, at which point she returned to the ski jumping hill.

“Throughout my athletic career, I tried to take the opportunities open to me and make the most of them,” she explains. “But [nordic combined] was always in the back of my mind.”

Since the women’s nordic combined continental cup debuted in 2018, Geraghty-Moats has started 18 events, finishing on the podium 17 times (including 15 wins). 

When equal isn’t equitable

As Geraghty-Moats has progressed in nordic combined, she has dealt with her fair share of road blocks.

“Sexism in sports is endemic,” she explains. “I think it’s going to take all of us acknowledging that and taking steps against it in every single sport. It’s not an issue just in nordic combined. It affects pretty much every female athlete who competes at a high level.”

Some of the challenges she faced were easy enough to identify. 

In 2016, she says she signed up to compete – and even paid the entry fee – for the U.S. national championships. The only problem? There was no women’s event. “I would have been perfectly happy to race in the men’s category or be the only person in my category, but I was just flatly told that there was no point,” she recalls. “Eventually they told me that I could race without a bib and not get a time.”

Other challenges were less blatant, but still systemic, a result of the sport’s male-only history. 

In the lead-up to the 2020-21 season, USA Nordic laid out its U.S. national team selection criteria, just as it always does. On paper, the criteria for the A-team was fairly standard: win an Olympic or world championship medal, or tally up enough strong results on the World Cup circuit.

But for Geraghty-Moats, A-team status and the funding that comes with it was – quite literally – unattainable.

“I didn’t have a World Cup last year. Even though I was ranked best in the world for two years in the world, there was no way that I could qualify for the A-team.”

Thanks to input from Geraghty-Moats and other athletes, USA Nordic revised its selection criteria so that athletes who finish in the top three of the continental cup rankings can also earn a spot on the A-team, thus allowing Geraghty-Moats to receive A-team funding for the first time in her career.

Jed Hinkley, who is currently in his first year as USA Nordic’s Sport Development Director, says the change helped address a situation in which equal treatment wasn’t leading to an equitable result, and praised Geraghty-Moats for her advocacy.

While Geraghty-Moats says she is thankful for the support of her national governing body, other financial challenges remain.

According to FIS guidelines, the winner of tomorrow’s women’s World Cup will receive 2800 CHF (approx. $3164 USD), while the winner of Saturday’s men’s competition can expect to earn 8000 CHF ($9040 USD). This disparity is then compounded by number of competitive opportunities. When the original 2020-21 World Cup calendar was released, it included 31 events for men and five for women. While both the men’s and women’s schedules have, understandably, seen changes as a result of COVID-19, there are now 17 men’s events on the calendar, while tomorrow’s event is currently the only women’s World Cup on the schedule.

While sponsors could help make up the difference, those aren’t exactly easy to come by when your sport isn’t contested on the world’s biggest stage. 

“It is pretty tough to find sponsors and find financial support because it’s not an Olympic event,” Geraghty-Moats explains. “What really big corporations are looking for is that Olympic emblem.”

Geraghty-Moats has a clear legacy amid an uncertain future

This year, athletes across all sports dealt with uncertain competition schedules and postponed events. For Geraghty-Moats, this has long been the norm.

“I’ve wanted to compete internationally in nordic combined since I was about 11 years old. And now I’m 26. And [my sport] isn’t in the Olympics, and I don’t know when it will be in the Olympics.”

Originally, the 2022 Beijing Olympics seemed a likely target, but when the official program was revealed, there was no women’s event. “Nordic combined, and women’s in particular, still need to be developed further in terms of universality [the number of countries with Olympic-level athletes], in terms of the level of the athletes,”  IOC sports director Kit McConnell said in 2018.

Now, the 2026 Milan-Cortina Games are the goal, but Geraghty-Moats is well aware of what that timeline might mean for her.

“I think there’s a real possibility that I may be able to compete in the 2026 Games, or maybe even the 2030 Games, but not necessarily be at my prime. And I think I will enjoy it just as much,” she says. “I try to focus on the fact that my legacy in nordic combined will have made winter sports more equitable, and hopefully a better place.”

How to watch the inaugural women’s World Cup in Ramsau, Austria

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Friday, December 18 3:30 a.m. Women’s Ski Jump Peacock Premium | STREAM LINK
7:45 a.m. Women’s Cross-Country 5km Peacock Premium | STREAM LINK

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2023 March Madness: Utah Utes engineer dramatic turnaround for third-ever Sweet Sixteen appearance

Members of the Utah Utes celebrate their win over the Princeton Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament.
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The No. 2-seeded Utah (27-4) women’s basketball team held off a pesky 10th-seeded Princeton squad on Sunday, winning 63-56 to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships for the first time since 2005-06 and just the third time in the program’s history.

“I’m proud of our team,” said eighth-year head coach Lynne Roberts after the second-round win at Utah’s Hunstman Center. “We set out to do this a year ago. We lost in this game at University of Texas and the goal was to be able to host (this year) so that we could have that home-court advantage and it made a difference.”

Utah’s fourth-year junior Alissa Pili backed up her recent second-team All-American honor with another 20-plus-point performance, scoring 28 on 8-for 13 shooting with 10 rebounds and going 11-for 13 on free throws. Sophomore forward Jenna Johnson added 15 points and six rebounds.

There’s been a lot of talk this weekend about how the Utes’ previous few seasons have ended – beginning with a rough 14-17 season that was cut short in 2020 due to the pandemic, followed by an abysmal 5-16 record in 2020-21. But the tide turned last year, as Utah rebounded with a 21-12 season that ended with a 78-56 loss to Texas in Austin in the second round of the NCAA tournament one year ago.

So, what changed?

“Last year, everyone was new to the NCAA tournament, so I think everyone was just experiencing it for the first time,” mused Johnson. “Losing in the second round last year, we’re definitely a lot hungrier this year, and then obviously hosting in Salt Lake, it’s fun just being in your own environment, to be around your own fans. I think it gives us an elevated level of confidence, both knowing what it’s like it play in this tournament and also getting to be at home.”

“Yeah, freshman year was kind of rough,” added third-year sophomore Kennady McQueen, who chipped in nine points Sunday. “We did experience losing a lot. … Coach Roberts, she said we are not going to have another season like that. We all stood behind her — the people that stayed — and brought in great people like starting last year with Jenna and Gi (Gianna Kneepkens) and people like that who have had a huge impact in helping us to where we are today. …

“When you get together a group of people that have the same goal in mind and will do make anything to make it happen, I think that’s where we have seen our success rate going up. This past offseason, we just kept getting better, and of course, the addition of the Alissa Pili really helped. When you bring a group of girls that have the same dream and same goal at the end of the year and doesn’t care about personal stats more than winning, I think we get the season that we have today, and it prepares us for deep run in March.”

In particular, McQueen believe it was Utah’s improvement in their defense that was crucial to the turnaround. “Everyone knows how good we are on offense, but if we can’t get stops, it doesn’t matter how good you are on offense,” she said. “So that’s just been a key the whole past off-season and all of this season — just getting better on defense.”

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: Alissa Pili revives her love of basketball with record season at Utah

Roberts credits their defensive improvement with a “philosophical mindset change,” explaining, “We worked on [defense] a lot differently, a lot more intentionally. Strategically we made some changes of how we are going to defend, and I won’t bore you with that. But there was a lot, just different things because you have to play to your strengths. You can’t be a run-and-jump pressing team if you don’t have the depth and athletes to do it. You can’t be a zone team if you are not super big. You have to figure out what fits your personnel, and so that’s what we did.”

There’s also the undeniable impact of Pili, a transfer from USC who has found her stride as a Ute, where she recently was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year.

“She kind of is the straw that stirs the drink for us right now,” said Roberts of the 21-year-old Alaska native. “She’s a nightmare to defend because she can shoot the three, and she’s also really athletic and mobile, so it doesn’t matter who we are playing. I think you have to gameplan for her. But then with her three-point shooting, you know, you have to pick your poison.”

But Roberts also gave plenty of kudos to Johnson, whom she describes as “phenomenal.”

“She’s 19 going on 40,” Roberts said of Johnson. “She’s the most mature, even-keeled consistent player we have. What I love about her is she is who she is. She’s confident in who she is. She knows who she is. She also is incredibly busy off the court.

“We were talking as we were getting ready to watch film, just shooting the breeze a bunch of us, we were talking about movies. And she was like, Oh, I don’t watch movies. Why not? I don’t have time. I get bored. What do you mean you don’t have time? Do you watch shows? No, I don’t ever watch TV. It is because she is doing all of these other extracurricular activities.”

As for guiding to the Utes to becoming a championship program, Roberts still sees it as an uphill battle – but one that she and her players are ready for.

“I always use the analogy of pushing the boulder up the hill,” she said. “And doing things for the first time, you have to have that mindset. You have to keep pushing. It’s been incredibly fun to see the support, and I think the swell is a perfect word for it. Most importantly, our players feel it.

“This is why you play, right? And it means so much. I know I say it over and over, but this is not going to be a flash-in-the-pan [season]. This isn’t going to be a ‘Oh, remember that year they had such an incredible year?’ We are going to keep doing it.”

RELATED: 2023 March Madness 2023 — Updated bracket, scores and schedule for NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship

2023 March Madness: Updated bracket, scores and schedule for NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship


Editor’s note: We’ll keep this page updated, so be sure to check back here for winners, scores and next-round details as the tournament progresses.

The bracket for 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship is officially set and defending champion South Carolina earned the No. 1 overall seed for the second straight season. A total of 68 teams will see tournament action, beginning with the “First Four” games on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by Round 1 play kicking off on Friday.

On Her Turf has compiled the matchups, sites and schedule for the tournament, which culminates Sunday, April 2 with the title game from American Airlines Center in Dallas.

2023 tournament No. 1 seeds:

  • South Carolina Gamecocks
  • Indiana Hoosiers
  • Virginia Tech Hokies
  • Stanford Cardinal

Last four teams in the tournament:

  • Illinois
  • Mississippi State
  • Purdue
  • St. John’s

First four teams out of the tournament:

  • Columbia
  • Kansas
  • UMass
  • Oregon

RELATED: South Carolina nabs No. 1 overall seed in NCAA women’s basketball tournament

‘First Four’ game schedule

Wednesday, March 15

  • 7 p.m. ET: 11. Illinois vs. 11. Mississippi State (South Bend, Indiana)
    • Winner: Mississippi State, 70-56
  • 9 p.m. ET: 16 Southern U vs. 16 Sacred Heart (Stanford, California)
    • Winner: Sacred Heart, 57-47

Thursday, March 16

  • 7 p.m. ET: 11 Purdue vs. 11 St. John’s (Columbus, Ohio)
    • Winner: St. John’s, 66-64
  • 9 p.m. ET: 16 Tennessee Tech vs. 16 Monmouth (Greenville, S.C.)
    • Winner: Tennessee Tech, 79-69

Bracket, schedule* by region 

*Includes scores, game time and TV network, if available


Columbia, S.C.

  • Round 1 — Friday, March 17:
    • 1. South Carolina 72, 16. Norfolk State 40
    • 8. South Florida 67, 9. Marquette 65
  • Round 2 — Sunday, March 19:
    • 1. South Carolina 76, 8. South Florida, 45

Los Angeles, California

  • Round 1 — Saturday, March 18:
    • 5. Oklahoma 85, 12. Portland 63
    • 4. UCLA 67, 13. Sacramento State 45
  • Round 2 — Monday, March 20:
    • 4. UCLA vs. 5. Oklahoma, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

South Bend, Indiana

  • Round 1 — Friday, March 17:
    • 6. Creighton 66, 11. Mississippi State 81 (First Four winner)
    • 3. Notre Dame 82, 14. Southern Utah 56
  • Round 2 — Sunday, March 19:
    • 3. Notre Dame 53, 11. Mississippi State 48

College Park, Maryland

  • Round 1 — Friday, March 17:
    • 7. Arizona 75, 10. West Virginia 62
    • 2. Maryland 93, 15. Holy Cross 61
  • Round 2 — Sunday, March 19:
    • 2. Maryland 77, 7. Arizona 64


Bloomington, Indiana

  • Round 1 — Saturday, March 18:
    • 1. Indiana 77, 16. Tennessee Tech 47 (First Four winner)
    • 8. Oklahoma State 61, 9. Miami 62 (FL)
  • Round 2 — Monday, March 20:
    • 1. Indiana vs. 9. Miami, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Villanova, Pennsylvania

  • Round 1 — Saturday, March 18:
    • 5. Washington State 63, 12. FGCU 74
    • 4. Villanova 76, 13. Cleveland State 59
  • Round 2 — Monday, March 20:
    • 12. FGCU vs. 4. Villanova, 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  • Round 1 — Friday, March 17:
    • 6. Michigan 71, 11. UNLV 59
    • 3. LSU 73, 14. Hawaii 50
  • Round 2 — Sunday, March 19:
    • 6. Michigan vs. 3. LSU, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Round 1 — Friday, March 17:
    • 7. N.C. State 63, 10. Princeton 64
    • 2. Utah 103, 15. Gardner-Webb 77
  • Round 2 — Sunday, March 19:
    • 2. Utah vs. 10. Princeton, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)


 Blacksburg, Virginia

  • Round 1 — Friday, March 17:
    • 1. Virginia Tech 58, 16. Chattanooga 33
    • 8. Southern California 57, 9. South Dakota State 62
  • Round 2 — Sunday, March 19:
    • 1. Virginia Tech 72, South Dakota State, 60

Knoxville, Tennessee

  • Round 1 — Saturday, March 18:
    • 5. Iowa State 73, 12. Toledo 80
    • 4. Tennessee 95, 13. Saint Louis 50
  • Round 2 — Monday, March 20:
    • 12. Toledo vs. 4. Tennessee, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

Columbus, Ohio

  • Round 1 — Saturday, March 18:
    • 6. North Carolina 61, 11. St. John’s  59 (First Four winner)
    • 3. Ohio State 80, 14. James Madison 66
  • Round 2 — Monday, March 20:
    • 3. Ohio State vs. 6. North Carolina, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Storrs, Connecticut

  • Round 1 — Saturday, March 18:
    • 7. Baylor 78, 10. Alabama 74
    • 2. UConn 95, 15. Vermont 52
  • Round 2 — Monday, March 20:
    • 2. UConn vs. 7. Baylor, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)


Stanford, California

  • Round 1 — Friday, March 17:
    • 1. Stanford 92, 16. Sacred Heart 49 (First Four winner)
    • 8. Ole Miss 71, 9. Gonzaga 48
  • Round 2 — Sunday, March 19:
    • 1. Stanford vs. 8. Ole Miss, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Austin, Texas 

  • Round 1 — Saturday, March 18:
    • 5. Louisville 83, 12. Drake 81
    • 4. Texas 79, 13. East Carolina 40
  • Round 2 — Monday, March 20:
    • 4. Texas vs. 5. Louisville, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Durham, N.C. 

  • Round 1 — Saturday, March 18:
    • 6. Colorado 82, 11. Middle Tennessee State 60
    • 3. Duke 89, 14. Iona 49
  • Round 2 — Monday, March 20:
    • 3. Duke vs. Colorado, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

Iowa City, Iowa 

  • Round 1 — Friday, March 17:
    • 7. Florida State 54, 10. Georgia 66
    • 2. Iowa 95, 15. Southeastern Louisiana 43
  • Round 2 — Sunday, March 19:
    • 2. Iowa 74, 10. Georgia 66

Regionals/Final Four schedule, how to watch

Sweet 16: Friday and Saturday, March 24-25; Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C., host: Southern Conference and Furman; and Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, hosts: Seattle and Seattle Sports Commission

Elite 8: Sunday and Monday, March 26-27; Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C., host: Southern Conference and Furman; and Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, hosts: Seattle and Seattle Sports Commission

Final 4: Friday, March 31, 7 p.m. ET and 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN); American Airlines Center, Dallas; hosts: Big 12 Conference and Dallas Sports Commission

Championship Game: Sunday, April 2, 3 p.m. ET (ABC); American Airlines Center, Dallas; hosts: Big 12 Conference and Dallas Sports Commission

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: 2023 March Madness — All about the 32 automatic qualifiers