The Park Record editorial, February 13-16, 2010
February 12, 2010
It takes a lot of character to be venerable but not stodgy, to be steeped in tradition and still receptive to change. So we understand, sometimes, why the 116-year-old International Olympic Committee has a hard time adapting to certain modern trends. But we would expect that an organization dedicated to sportsmanship and fairness would understand and eagerly embrace something as basic as gender equality.
Apparently, though, the IOC is still struggling with that concept.
After a decade of jumping through every possible athletic and legal hoop, women ski jumpers are still not welcome at the Winter Games.
Three of their male counterparts on the U.S. Ski Team qualified Friday at Whistler Olympic Park (among them, Park City resident Anders Johnson) but the dedicated female jumpers who have competed and trained beside them around the world are relegated to the sidelines.
Being grounded for the 2010 Olympics is a particularly bitter pill for the 15 women who fought a valiant court battle to break down one of the last gender barriers of the Winter Olympics. Ski jumping is the last men-only winter event and the women had high hopes that the Canadian government would stand up to the IOC.
Even after the jumpers took their case to Canada’s highest court, the IOC refused to budge, snuffing the young athletes’ Olympic ambitions for another four years.
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Thanks to the IOC’s outdated principles, Lindsey Van, the world champion in 2009, will miss her chance to earn an Olympic medal.
The IOC’s decision to exclude women from competing shows that the organization is still struggling to keep up with the times. There have been some forward strides highlighted by the IOC’s willingness to include snowboarding as a bona fide Olympic sport. But allowing men to jump while not offering the same opportunity to women is unconscionable.
While Anders Johnson is flying over the Olympic crowds this week, his sister Alissa, also a world renowned jumper, will be watching from the bleachers. We thought that kind of story went out of style in the 1970s when women’s liberation was still considered a radical idea.