When will the sport learn that women’s racing can be as exciting as men’s?{mosimage}When will the sport learn that women’s racing can be as exciting as men’s?

The Santa Caterina downhill track may have been a good test of speed and skill, but sitting on the couch watching it on the tube…well, the women’s World Championship downhill was just plain boring. Admittedly it is tough to make comparisons when one has no Italian language skills, however seeing athlete after athlete in an interminable tuck position wears thin after ten racers or so.

Contrasted with the men’s race on the preceding day, it was obvious that there were a combination of factors which made the women’s race seem far too tame on the tube.
The men’s race course was full of terrain which when captured in slow motion added dynamism to the screen. Skis were shown torquing and undulating under the pressure of the track creating a raw sense of speed and difficulty.

For the women, their terrain may have been challenging, but it was too mild for all but an expert viewer to discern much from the picture. Furthermore, while the men struggled to stay in a tuck while the women were able to hold their tuck position for much of the course; good for holding speed, bad for television.

Like the men, the women had a fairly major jump on the Deborah Compagnoni piste. Still, from the camera position, the viewer did not get anywhere near the feeling for the distance carried as one did for the men’s race. The camera position seemed to depress the jump, failing to give the view a feel for how far the women were flying.

And then there is a matter of speed. The FIS is holding speeds down by making the courses turnier. The first gate after the ladies start was so close and required such a dramatic direction change the women looked like they were in a nordic skate race rather than starting a championship downhill.

The FIS is alleged to be varying the placement of speed traps, supposedly to keep fans from comparing speeds from one course to another. That only serves to dampen the enthusiasm. With Europe’s passion for speed Formula 1, auto rallying why tone down the actual pace of the racers. Put the speed traps where the racers are at maximum.

To compete for viewer interest, the FIS needs to pay far more attention to what type of slopes are used for downhill ensuring they are sufficiently challenging to generate a good television picture. Then, the organization must insist on cleverly placed cameras to bring the action right into the living room. If women do not deserve the same treatment as the men why bother to put them on the air at all.

Unhappily the women’s downhill did not get the same attention as the men’s. It showed. – G. B. Jr.

Article Tags: Alpine



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