The Park Record editorial, July 11, 2009
A group of the world’s best women ski jumpers had their hopes dashed today.
In a last-ditch effort to force the International Olympic Committee to let women compete in the ski-jumping events at the 2010 Winter Olympics, 15 women ski jumpers, including several from Park City, appealed to British Columbia’s Supreme Court to determine whether Vancouver’s Olympic Committee (VANOC) was guilty of discrimination.
The women hoped to make the case that the committee, a quasi-governmental agency, had to either allow both men and women to jump or cancel the men’s events.
Despite their fervent crusade, the court ruled that the International Olympic Committee, which governs the Games, is not subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and, therefore, VANOC doesn’t have the authority to force them to comply.
It is a heartbreaker for young women athletes like Avery Ardovino, Brenna Ellis, Sarah Hendrickson, Abby Hughes, Jessica Jerome, Alissa Johnson and Lindsey Van of Park City who have been competing at the highest levels of ski jumping since 2006. They have consistently worked to attain the international accreditations to qualify their event and they have met all but the one over which they have no control gender.
Hopefully these women and the many supporters who have championed their cause, will not consider their efforts wasted. These jumpers’ talents have lifted young women onto podiums around the world and they have made all of us very proud.
For better or worse, the battle has been part of their training. Van and Jerome have been fighting for inclusion in the Olympics since 2003. They have watched the wheels of justice creak and groan and have kept fighting. This week, though, they saw their efforts snagged, once again, on a technicality. And while this round may cost them the opportunity to compete in 2010, we would urge them to continue chipping away at the IOC’s outdated chauvinism. It may be that the sweetest victory of all will not be a medal but the knowledge they paved the way for future generations of women ski jumpers.
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