Friday, October 26, 2007

The Fight Continues

Dark clouds hung over the Whistler ski area this weekend as rain pummeled British Columbia. Ski hills sat wet and vacant, awaiting champions to fly from their slopes come winter. These same hills will host the Olympic athletes in 2010... but only the male athletes. Or will they?

In Canada and throughout the women's ski jumping community, the fight continues to persuade the IOC to change their decree that women can't compete in the Olympics in the ski jumping event. Despite the fact that ski jumping has been am Olympic sport - for men - since 1924, the IOC maintains that the sport (for women) is too new to be included in the Olympic lineup. This, while snowboard cross was added for the Torino Olympics in 2006 and ski cross - a freestyle event that was conceived in the 1990's - was given the nod for the 2010 Vancouver games. Ski jumping and Nordic Combined, which includes ski jumping as well as cross country, remain the only Olympic events in which men are allowed to compete, but women are not. And the women aren't happy.

Appealing to the Human Rights Commission, Canadian skiers are challenging the committee's apparent gender bias. They are in the fight of their lives - many of these women athletes will reach their peak performance by the 2010 Olympics, so the committee's condescending pat on the head as they suggest that perhaps a women's ski jump event may be considered for 2014 effectively takes them out of the running.

It should be noted that not all IOC members are against women's ski jumping. In the words of Anita DeFrantz, an American member of the committee, “We’ve worked very hard to establish gender equity over these last 15 years, with great success,” she said. “It seems to me we should finish the work.”