A step closer
The U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team, made up entirely of Park City residents, took another step closer to the dream of competing in the Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada in 2010.
There have been no decisions or changes of heart, but the jumpers did receive a court date set for next spring, where the women will be able to argue to participate in the Winter Games.
According to reports coming out of Vancouver, the lawyer representing the jumpers, Ross Clark, will go before a British Columbia, Canada Supreme Court Judge on April 20 of next year.
The women will be arguing that keeping them out of the Games is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to Deedee Corradini, Park City-based president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, there is an outside chance the women could convince the court of this violation. She added that the Canadian media has been 99 percent positive on the issue and the judge’s decision could be favorable.
"We’re cautiously optimistic," Corradini said.
She is also hoping for the proceedings to be expeditious.
"We think the April date is a good date for a summary judgment," Corradini said. "We expect a quick judgment and not going to trial."
The lawsuit was filed by 10 current and former ski jumpers from the U.S., Canada and Europe. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) originally decided in 2006 to keep the women out of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, saying that the sport had not evolved enough to be included. Last season, there were 99 female jumpers worldwide representing 15 countries and competing at the highest level. There are other sports in the Olympics with fewer athletes and fewer representative countries.
Clark is expected to argue that keeping the women out of the Games is a discriminatory action. Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) has stated that, as the governing body for the Games; it makes the decision on which sports are allowed to compete. Neither the IOC nor VANOC is named in the suit, but Clark must convince the court that VANOC is participating in an action of the federal government.
Clark expects to have the court documents filed by the end of January, which should generate more buzz about the issue.
Corradini added that the group is doing everything possible to keep the issue at the forefront of Canadian news.
A strategically-timed press conference featuring Clark and Canadian ski jumper Zoya Lynch was held before the first world press briefing for Vancouver 2010 on November 18 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Flanked by a sign reading, "Let Women Jump in 2010," the group addressed a gathering of media totaling between 20 and 30 people, according to Corradini. The press conference made the front page of the Vancouver Sun and also ran in the national paper, The Globe and Mail, among other Canadian media outlets.
Corradini said they are also trying to keep visibility for their plight in the European press. To that end, Corradini, who as former Salt Lake City mayor was an integral part of bringing the 2002 Olympic Games to Utah, used her contacts with Gianni Merlo, president of the International Sports Press Association, to put it on association’s Web site.
The women will have an opportunity to garner some local press this month when the team comes to the Utah Olympic Park jumps for International Ski Federation (FIS) Continental Cup Dec 12 and 13 at 5:30 p.m. This will be the team’s first North American competition and the team is hoping for a large crowd. Corradini said that FIS officials will be present and possibly an IOC representative.
Following the Park City event, the women will head to Whistler, British Columbia, for their next competition. After that, the team is off to compete in Europe. All of these competitions are leading up to the 2009 World Championships where the world’s top women ski jumpers are scheduled to compete. This will be a momentous occasion, as itis the first time the women jumpers have been allowed to compete in the World Championships.
After that, the IOC Executive Board will meet in Denver, Colo. Corradini said that the timing of that meeting is perfect as it happens just before the Canadian court date.
"Maybe a decision will come of it," she said.
Admission to the Park City Continental Cup is free and hot chocolate will be available for all spectators. Fireworks and a visit from a ski-jumping Santa are also scheduled on Saturday evening following the awards ceremony. Call 658-4200 or visit http://www.olyparks.com for additional information.
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