Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Those Daring Young Women On The Flying Trapeze

Or rather ski-jumpers. But women are not allowed to participate in the Olympic ski-jumping:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says the women's exclusion isn't discrimination. President Jacques Rogge has insisted that the decision "was made strictly on a technical basis, and absolutely not on gender grounds." But female would-be Olympic competitors say they don't understand what that "technical basis" is. Their abilities? They point to American Lindsey Van, who holds the world record for the single longest jump by anyone, male or female. (Ironically, she broke the record flying from a jump built at Whistler for the Vancouver Olympics). Their numbers? When the IOC voted in 2006 not to add women's ski jumping, 83 competitors from 14 nations jumped at the top level, less universality than required to add a new event. But in the same year, women's skier cross claimed just 30 skiers from 11 nations. The committee added it. (There are also too few male ski jumpers to qualify, but as one of the original 16 Winter Olympic events, their event isn't subjected to the same rules.)

All that boils down to the idea that there aren't enough female ski-jumpers. But the piece I quote also points out the problem is circular: If the event doesn't qualify for the Olympics, then fewer countries bother to support those daring young women in the first place, and then the event keeps on not qualifying.

The other expressed reason for women's exclusion are those vulnerable female bits and pieces:

In an interview with NPR in 2005, Gian Franco Kasper echoed the sentiment. "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," the International Ski Federation (FIS) president said.

Is he talking about the uterus slipping out, eh? The main reason for such prolapses is actually giving birth. But not to worry! Medical science can fix those problems.

This argument about ski-jumping reminds me of a similar argument about professional jockeys. Women should have an inherent advantage in both fields because of smaller average size. Hmmm.
And yes, the attached picture in the post I link to is not a ski-jumper.