Women ski jumpers make their case
February 26, 2008
A billboard went up in Vancouver, Canada, over the weekend, which read: "Just Imagine. Let Women Ski Jump in 2010."
That sentiment is followed by a quote pulled straight from the Olympic charter: "Implementing the principle of equality of men and women."
And thus continues the battle to get females ski jumpers into the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
The long-fought battle is finally getting legs in the city where it will count the most. Legislators from both the provincial and federal government are jumping on board in the fight for gender equality at the 2010 Games. This week, Harry Bains, a member of the British Columbia Legislature, will introduce legislation urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to include women’s ski jumping on the Olympic docket.
"Harry has been very supportive," Women’s Ski Jumping USA head DeeDee Corradini said. "After the last press conference, it made so much news we have politicians jumping on board."
At the federal level, Member of Parliament Peter Julian will introduce similar legislation and has also penned a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking him to continue trying to change the minds of the IOC.
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Things are also happening on the ground level besides the recent billboard signage. The IOC, the Internal Ski Federation (FIS) and the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) were in Vancouver this week in conjunction with a World Cup, testing the city’s alpine venue. So, Corradini decided it was the right time to make the trip up to Canada armed with other supporters to stage a rally on the steps of the Vancouver Art Museum on Sunday.
"We hope the IOC will realize this is a hot-button issue," Corradini said.
One of the busiest spots in the city, the museum served as a prime location for continuing to garner grassroots support. Corradini was also joined by Parliament member Hedy Frye, who has been leading the charge within the federal government to get the sport into the Games. Also present was former ski jumper Karla Keck, who spoke passionately about why women jumpers should be allowed into the Games.
"I was just talking about how long they will keep the women twisting in the wind," Keck said. "Its been going on since 2002. That’s a lot of time to dedicate your life to a dream that’s a maybe."
The rally was well attended after Canadian supporters blitzed blogs and websites, as well as from the buzz that the media had created over the issue. Corradini said some of the rally-goers with homemade signs demanding the women be included in the Vancouver Olympics.
"A lot of the Canadians didn’t know," Corradini said. "They have fabulous Canadian jumpers The Canadians are waking up and saying, ‘We’ve got potential here.’"
In fact, Canadian jumper Atsuko Tanaka took first place at a Continental Cup contest held in Germany over the weekend.
"They ask, ‘Why not?’ and that is the question," Keck said. "I don’t think anybody understands why not."
The IOC claims that sport is not developed enough among women, voting in 2006 against adding it as an Olympic sport. Currently, the FIS reports that there are 135 female ski jumpers from 16 countries competing, and there have been sanctioned competitions for women since 1995.
"The women are ready to compete," Keck said. "This is a big deal. This is the time to make a bold statement for women’s equality."