January 20, 2011 by Ilene H. Lang
Women can't jump?
The International Olympic Committee said it “needs more time” to decide the fate of women’s ski jumping in the 2014 Winter Games. The committee met late last year to discuss, among other issues, possible inclusion of the high-flying sport banned in years past.
You read that correctly—women ski jumpers were not allowed to compete in previous Olympic Games. It is the last Olympic sport to remain men only.
In 2009, the IOC claimed that there were not enough “qualified” women to merit inclusion of the sport in the 2010 Vancouver Games. At the time, 83 women from 14 nations competed at the top level, including Lindsey Van, who held the world title and North American distance record.
A double standard clearly applies—and this is nothing new in the world of ski jumping.
“Because of this unanswered medical question as to whether ski jumping agrees with the female organism, this would be a very daring experiment and should be strongly advised against,” wrote Doctor Gustave Klein-Doppler in the 1926 Wintersports Yearbook. Almost 80 years later, International Ski Federation (FIS) President Gian-Franco Kasper mirrored these remarks, noting: “Don't forget, it’s like jumping down from, let’s say, about two meters on the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.”
Huh? It’s 2011—enough with these sexist stereotypes about delicate “ladies.”
“The IOC’s role is to encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women,” states the Olympic Charter.
Letting women jump is one way to affirm this principle—and send an inspiring message to women and girls that they can soar.