Canada’s women ski jumpers have sent a letter to the Vancouver Organizing Committee seeking support for their sport before a key International Olympic Committee vote next week that will decide whether to allow women’s jumping as an Olympic sport for the first time.
CANADA'S WOMEN SKI JUMPERS have sent a letter to the Vancouver Organizing Committee seeking support for their sport before a key International Olympic Committee vote next week that will decide whether to allow women’s jumping as an Olympic sport for the first time.
The IOC executive board will meet in Kuwait and get recommendations from its program commission. Women’s ski jumping, skiercross, a team event in alpine skiing, individual curling and team luge all could be considered for inclusion at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
If women’s ski jumpers aren’t voted into the 2010 schedule, they must wait until the 2014 Games to try again — something advocates for the sport believe would mean the loss of many top women who won’t be willing or financially able to wait that long.
“This is it,” said former Salt Lake City mayor Deedee Corradini, a longtime women's jumping supporter who was on the bid committee that landed the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. “As far as we’re concerned, this is make or break.”
Ski jumping is the only Winter Olympics sport in which women don’t participate.
In May, women jumpers cleared their first big hurdle when the International Ski Federation, or FIS, voted to add an individual event for the 2009 World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, a necessary prelude to the sport attaining Olympic status.
“That decision both affirmed the important principle of gender equity and recognized the maturity of women’s ski jumping,” said the Canadian team’s letter, obtained by The Associated Press. “This year, jumpers from 14 nations will be competing in 20 events staged by eight countries on three different continents.
“We sincerely believed and hoped that VANOC would embrace this opportunity to remove the final barrier to equal participation by women at the Vancouver Olympics and would encourage the IOC to approve the FIS request.”
Some Olympic officials, however, have said they aren’t sure women jumpers worldwide are far enough along in their development to compete on the Olympic stage.
The athletes disagree.
“Inclusion of women at the ski jumping venue would have many positive benefits for Canada,” the women wrote. “We believe we would be strong role models to girls and women. We have already achieved excellent results in international competitions. … To remain competitive, we need funding, and funding in Canada depends on the chance to stand upon the podium. If the IOC and VANOC give us a chance at the podium, our sport can continue to develop.”
— The Associated Press