Way back in December, 2006 (wow, has this blog been around that long?), I posted about the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to include women’s ski jumping in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Ski jumping is the only Olympic sport that doesn’t allow women to compete. In fact, influential IOC member and FIS President Gian Franco Kasper told National Public Radio that ski jumping “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.”
Pretty amazing, isn’t it? And this is 2010 we’re talking about — not 1910.
The IOC has all sorts of reasons for its decision. So in the grand tradition of that TV show Mythbusters — and borrowing heavily from the Let The Women Jump website, I thought I’d explode a few of them here.
Myth: There are not enough women ski jumping for it to be included in the Olympic Winter Games.
Fact: Over 130 women from 16 nations are registered as international competitors with the International Ski Federation (FIS). Hundreds more compete in their own countries at the national and club levels.
Myth: Women are not good enough to compete at the World Cup level.
Fact: The FIS Continental Cup format is used for the elite level of women’s international competition. In 2004 organizers from ski jumping nations chose to forgo asking the FIS for a Women’s World Cup tour in order to reduce production costs and facilitate growth in the sport.
Myth: Women’s ski jumping is not developed enough. There is not enough “universality.”
Fact: 16 Nations (AUT, CAN, CZE, FIN, FRA, GER, ITA, JAP, NED, NOR, POL, RUS,SLO, SWE, SUI, & USA) have women registered as international competitors with the FIS. This season’s Continental Cup tour will include 25 events hosted by 8 countries in Europe, North America, and Asia.
Myth: Only a few women athletes can jump respectably.
Fact: 35 different athletes from 9 nations have placed within the top 10 in FIS Continental Cup competition during the past two seasons. The depth of field parallels the men’s tour.
Myth: There must be two World Championship competitions held before an event can be included in the Olympics.
Fact: This criterion has had exceptions made to it in the past. The most notable being the inclusion of the women’s marathon event in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics after a single World Championship in 1983. The first Women’s Ski Jumping World Championship will be held in Liberec, Czech Republic in 2009. By 2010 there will have been four World Junior Championships.
Myth: There is not room on the 2010 program to include the women jumpers.
Fact: Currently there are six men’s ski jumping medal events (three ski jumping and three Nordic Combined) planned over six days. A single women’s event could bescheduled on available days.
Myth: The cost of including a women’s event on the 2010 program would be prohibitive.
Fact: Women ski jump on the identical jumps that the Men use. The venue would not be required to be modified in any way.
There’s a petition about this over on the Let The Women Jump website, and I encourage everyone who reads this to sign it. Even if it’s too late to get this included in the ’10 games, maybe if enough of us speak out, we can hope for 2014. As they say, better late than never.