Women's Ski Jumping, Halfpipe Skiing added to 2014 Olympic schedule
Women’s ski jumping and halfpipe skiing events have officially been added to the Olympic program for the 2014, Sochi, Russia Games.
The International Olympic Committee made the announcement today (April 6) during the IOC Executive Board’s press conference in London, site of the 2012 Summer Games. It was also announced that a decision regarding the inclusion of slopestyle skiing and snowboarding and the alpine team event will be made in late may.
“The inclusion of these events on the Olympic Winter Games programme is sure to be appreciated by athletes and sports fans alike,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge. “These are exciting, entertaining events that perfectly complement the existing events on the sports programme, bring added appeal and increase the number of women participating at the Games. I look forward to watching the athletes compete in these events in Sochi 2014.”
"This is a special day. The IOC's decisions to include women's ski jumping and halfpipe skiing marks a truly progressive era in the Olympic sport movement,” said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. “Today is the beginning of a chapter in the history books that will showcase these great athletes' talent and dedication on the world's stage in 2014 and beyond. The USSA is happy to be a part of these exciting developments in Olympic sport."
In October 2010, the IOC EB said it was “looking favorably” at adding women’s ski jumping to Sochi 2014, but said it needed more time to consider the outcome of the sport’s 2011 World Championships in Oslo in February. In grueling weather conditions and in front of nearly 10,000 spectators, 43 athletes from 15 nations competed in Oslo compared to 36 athletes from 13 nations in Liberec, Czech Republic in 2009. Five of the top six finishers in Oslo were from different countries and ranged in age from 27 to 14.
“We are elated and relieved,” said Deedee Corradini, Women’s Ski Jumping USA president. “Sochi, Russia can proudly proclaim that it will be hosting the first gender-equal Winter Games in Olympic history.” Ski jumping (and Nordic Combined) were the only disciplines in the Winter Games that did not allow women to participate.
Skiing halfpipe was under similar scrutiny this February at the FIS Freestyle World Championships in Deer Valley, Utah.
"I have been waiting for this decision for over six years now, it is a dream come true! Now on to the next dream: getting myself there!" said halfpipe skier Jen Hudak, a four-time X Games medalist. "I am so thrilled that the IOC decided to include halfpipe skiing in the 2014 Games in Sochi. The level of the sport is high, the interest in it is even higher, the Olympics provide us with the ultimate stage to show our sport to the world!"
The International Ski Federation (FIS) had recommended twice to the IOC to include women’s ski jumping in Sochi; three World Championships will have taken place before 2014; and a new World Cup circuit starts in 2011/2012.
“I am thrilled the IOC decided to add our sport. Personally, this means a lot to me. I started ski jumping when there were no international women’s competitions,” said 26-year-old American Lindsey Van, the 2009 World Champion. “Women’s ski jumping has been growing over the past 10 years, but inclusion in the Olympics is what our sport needed to take the next step."
Participation in women’s ski jumping continues to increase worldwide. Since 2006, when the IOC turned down a women’s ski jumping event for 2010, at least three more countries have women ski jumpers competing at the elite level including Romania, Russia and China. In that same year, 83 women from 14 nations were registered to compete on the FIS Continental Cup and in 2010, those numbers increased to 182 women from 18 nations.
The inclusion of Skiing halfpipe, a staple on the widely popular X Games schedule for years, proves that the IOC is attempting to stay current with the involvement of youth in winter sports. Since its debut in 1998, the halfpipe snowboarding event has become one of the Games most popular events and skiing halfpipe promises to follow.
"This is a great moment for freeskiing. I feel honored to be considered to be in the same class as an Olympic athlete. It’s exciting to be recognized as an Olympic caliber sport," said Simon Dumont, a four-time X Games gold medalist. "I hope to have the opportunity to go to Russia and make my country proud. I’ve been waiting for the chance to bring home a medal."
Images by Gepa