In a time when women are fighting for equal pay in professions around the globe, the top women’s alpine ski racers in the world out-earned their male counterparts for the second season in a row thanks to equal minimum prize money offered at all Audi FIS Alpine World Cup events. Though individual organizers are permitted to offer more than the minimum should they have the funding to do so, both the ladies’ and men’s races pay out at least 120,000 CHF across the top 30 finishers in each race.
In the 2017-18 season, all but one of the top 18 ladies out-earned the male with an equivalent ranking on the prize money list. All of the top 13 ladies achieved this same feat in 2016-17, including American Mikaela Shiffrin who has earned more prize money than male number one Marcel Hirscher for the past two winters.
“I think the fact that I was able to win the most prize money this year out of all athletes – female and male – means that, while there is still a big fight to eliminate gender bias in the workplace, progress is being made,” said Shiffrin. “Especially when compared to one of the strongest male athletes of this generation (Hirscher), and having had a fairly equal amount of success as Marcel this year.”
Shiffrin was able to earn a total of 702,774.88 CHF due in part to her podium performances at venues on the ladies’ tour that paid out in excess of the minimum including Courchevel, Lienz, and Flachau. Flachau was the highest paying race on the ladies’ circuit at 194,054.76 CHF, with over 39,000 going to Shiffrin as the winner. Bad Kleinkirchheim also exceeded minimum prize money on the ladies’ tour for a total of four venues and seven races paying out higher than required. Meanwhile, Kitzbuehel and Schladming were the only men’s venues to pay out in excess of the minimum, with the Kitzbuehel downhill and slalom races showing the biggest purse of all at 200,000 CHF a piece.
A 2017 BBC Sport study revealed that of 44 professional sports ranging from basketball to badminton and including cycling, soccer, golf, and tennis, 20 percent still fail to offer parity in prize money. Sports with the highest purses tend to show the greatest discrepancies, though the four Grand Slams in tennis pay out equally to both genders, with Wimbeldon being the last to do so as of 2007.
“It is very clear to me that the same job and responsibilities should be valued the same,” said Atle Skaardal, FIS Chief Race Director World Cup Ladies. “Our competitions on the ladies’ tour are equally demanding and draw the same if not more spectators in some cases, so it is essential that ladies’ alpine skiing offers equal prize money to what is done so on the men’s tour.”
Nina Haver-Loeseth of Norway has earned more than the male with an equivalent ranking on the prize money list for the past three years running, averaging 106’175 CHF each winter. She cites parity in prize money as one of the reasons she was motivated and able to develop into a professional athlete in the sport.
“Seeing women earn a fair living in ski racing helped me maintain my interest in this sport from when I was a young girl to becoming a professional,” said Haver-Loeseth. “As a female athlete, it is a very good feeling to know that the prize money is equal to the men. It would feel unfair otherwise, and I am proud of where our sport is when it comes to appreciating both men’s and women’s skiing. It’s 2018, and it’s a bit sad to see that in some other sports the gap between men and women is still way too big when it comes to prize money and earnings.”
This comparison considers only prize money winnings, of course, and does not account for sponsorships and endorsements which are not publicly known. See the full prize money ranking lists from the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup for the past seven seasons here.
Release courtesy of FIS.