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Women's Ski Jumpers vs. the Olympics, Round II

Why aren't the female ski jumpers allowed to compete at the Olympics?
posted: 11/12/2009

The women of ski jumping. Photo: Dan Campbell.

Women can marry women nationwide. Maternity leave is one-year long. And, unlike America, a woman has held the highest office in the country. But in Canada, God help you if you’re a woman who ski jumps.

That last one isn’t Canada’s fault. The long-running dispute between the jumpers and the upcoming winter Olympics is in court again today to try and make it Canada’s fault. But it ain’t going to happen.

The Clifs Notes are simple: the jumpers’ Olympic absence stems from the International Olympic Committee. The IOC canned women’s ski jumping because they didn’t think it was competitive enough—even though it’s much more so than the weak field of female bobsledders. The Vancouver group putting on the games, VANOC, has to do the IOC’s bidding. So VANOC slammed the door.

Now there are fourteen athletes trying to use the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms—a bad-ass version of the Bill of Rights—to pin it all on VANOC. The only problem is that Canadian law, while applicable to VANOC, has as much a say on IOC policy as it does on Serbian war criminals.

To be fair, the IOC point of view isn’t without merit. At the 2009 ski jumping World Championships, roughly 20 points separated the women’s podium from the lower part of the field. But the men’s field of 50 competitors—14 more competitors than the women’s field—finished less than 20 points apart.

Whether the jumpers win or lose is irrelevant now. What we’ve all learned from this spectacular public relations failure is that it takes a human rights lawsuit to make the world give a rat’s ass about ski jumping. The second lesson we've learned is that the IOC has its head so far up its own colon that it can’t react to international outcry. Even if they do, the damage is done.

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