The International Ski Federation today denied Lindsey Vonn’s request to race in a men’s downhill race at Lake Louise later this month.
A statement from the FIS council reads: “The Council respected Lindsey Vonn’s proposal to participate in men’s World Cup races and confirmed that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other, and exceptions will not be made to the FIS rules. In terms of her request to participate in the men’s downhill in Lake Louise, she is welcome to submit a request to the Organizing Committee and jury to be a forerunner.”
The USSA had supported the request by Vonn, a four-time overall World Cup champion, to compete in a race at Canada’s Lake Louise World Cup where she has been dominant in women’s competitions.
USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt, a member of the FIS Council and a vice president of FIS, expressed disappointment but also acknowledged the consensus direction of the sport’s governing body.
“Lindsey Vonn is a great champion in our sport and we have always respected her interests in this new challenge,” said Marolt. “It’s important for us to support athletes like Lindsey. She has achieved greatness from her tenacity in seeking new challenges. We’re disappointed that the FIS Council did not support the proposal but also respect its direction. Now, we have to keep a strong focus on the World Championships this season and the 2014 Olympics.”
The Canadian reaction was also swift with Alpine Canada president Max Gardner issuing the following statement: “I’m disappointed to hear that Lindsey will not be racing against the men in Lake Louise,” Gartner said. “I saw it as a great opportunity to raise the profile of the sport by attracting interest from people who do not normally follow ski racing, particularly in North America. It would have provided a great platform to showcase our sport and the amazing athletic performances of our athletes.
“Lindsey has achieved many milestones in ladies’ ski racing,” Gardner went on to say. “It would have been interesting to see how she stacked up against the best male racers in the world. Lake Louise is the perfect venue to have that comparison because Lindsey has as much experience on the mountain as many of the men have had. … I hope Lindsey gets a chance to fulfill her dream at a later date.”
Click here to read what others have to say about this story and add your own thoughts.