Women Ski Jumpers Write to IOC President About Recent Remarks

FasterSkierDecember 16, 20093

The following is an open letter to Dr. Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC, from the women ski jumpers in response to recent public remarks Dr. Rogge made about women’s ski jumping at a press conference. Below the letter is a transcript from the press conference.

Dear Dr. Rogge:

We were very dismayed by the way you elected to answer a question about women’s ski jumping asked of you last week at a press conference on December 10 in Lausanne.  You compared women ski jumpers to their male counterparts – both as athletes in terms of performance and as individual events within the sport of ski jumping.  As you are well aware, men and women athletes do not compete against one another.  They compete within their gender – men against men and women against women.

Would you compare Usain Bolt to Florence Griffith-Joyner?  Catriona Le May-Doan to Sven Kramer?  Lindsey Vonn to Bode Miller? Olympic gold medalist for women’s hockey Hayley Wickenheiser is never compared to male hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.  These athletes are all admired and respected for their achievements against same-gender competitors.

You pointed out there are so few women ski jumpers active at the world championship level and you compared that disparagingly to “thousands of male ski jumpers.”  You neglected to mention that those male ski jumpers have participated in the Olympics since 1924, guaranteeing those men funding from their governments, their sports federations and support from trainers, coaches and sponsors, not to mention a fan base that has increased awareness of ski jumping as a sports opportunity for men.  Women’s ski jumping, as a sport, has never had the same level of support and as a consequence has not been able to develop at the same rate as men’s ski jumping.

Even in 1991, when the IOC agreed to allow for the inclusion of both men’s and women’s events in all new sports at the Olympic Games, women’s ski jumping was puzzlingly left off the list. Isn’t it also significant that in 2006 FIS recommended our inclusion in the Olympics by a 114-1 vote?

It is far more reasonable to compare us to the numbers of women in facility-based winter sports like bobsleigh, skeleton, luge, skier cross and snowboard cross. In 2006, when you denied our inclusion for the 2010 Vancouver Games, 83 women from 14 nations competed at the elite level in ski jumping, according to our sports federation FIS.  Hundreds more competed in their own countries at the national and club levels.

By comparison, at the time of their inclusion, only 34 women from 10 nations competed at the elite level in snowboard cross and 30 women from 11 nations in ski cross. You added women’s snowboard cross to the Olympics for 2006 and skier cross for 2010.  Shouldn’t the same concern you expressed for  “dilution of medals” apply to these sports? If you compare the numbers of women and countries competing at the elite level in luge, bobsleigh and skeleton during the 2006/2007 season, when we were denied entry, ski jumping had more women and countries at the elite level than those sports as well.

It’s time to admit there is no reasonable excuse for excluding women’s ski jumping from the Olympics. This has been found to be discriminatory under the laws of Canada and we are seeking leave to argue our case at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Against tremendous opposition and well-documented discrimination, we have still achieved amazing results for our sport.  We love what we do, we know we do it well and we know there are enough of us to stage an exciting and competitive event in Vancouver 2010.


Anette Sagen, Norway, Ulrike Graessler, Germany, Jenna Mohr, Germany, Monica Planic, Slovenia, Lindsey Van, USA, Jessica Jerome, USA, Karla Keck, USA, Katie Willis, Canada, Canada, Meaghan Reid, Canada, Zoya Lynch, Canada, Jade Edwards, Canada, Nata de Leeuw, Canada, Charlotte Mitchell, Canada


DEC. 10, 2009

To view the press conference question, go to http://www.olympic.org/en/content/Media/?articleNewsGroup=-1&articleId=75396 and click to start the video. It’s the last question and you can skip to “13:40” on the timer.

David Miller, freelance:  Can you remind or explain, I’m not sure at point there was if any explanation given the principle for developing women’s participation — what was the EB’s stance on the rejection of women’s applications to be involved in ski jumping in Vancouver.

IOC President Jacques Rogge: That is very clear. You do not have to mix two different issues. If we have more women’s events, we accept women’s event when the quality is there.  The issue is that in women’s jumping we considered that there was too few international jumpers to award three Olympic medals. We did not want the medals to be watered down by too little a pool of very good jumpers.

There are approximately 164 (inaudible) women jumping around the world at International Skiing Federation. More than 2,500 men are jumping. So you can see the difference. In jumping competition there is clearly for women two groups — there is a group of about 15 women, technically very able, jumping well. And a second group that is quite far from them.

If you look at the difference and distance from No. 1 and No. 15 in men, distance is very short. In women you have far bigger distances. In some cases,  you have more than 40 percent distance from the first one. So we had considered that there wasn’t enough quality at the time. But we are considering definitely to include them in Sochi should the progress they are making continue. We include them also in the first Winter Olympic Youth Games in Innsbruck in 2012. So I think that generation will hopefully be jumping in Sochi.

Miller:  Are you worried about the possibility of an Edwina Edwards?
Rogge: I think in the Olympic Games, that eagles don’t fly anymore.

Source: WSJUSA


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  • Cloxxki

    December 17, 2009 at 3:14 am

    When will the men’s teams in ski jumping make formal statements in this case? It’s their masculin glory being protected by the grey men at IOC. If they act like they are sexually intimidated by a bunch of girls…yes the IOC wise will help the lads out in return for some locker room priviledges.
    If the men with steel balls actually had balls, they’d stand behind the leadies in distress, and offered their starting rights back to the IOC if the girls were not to be allowed. No top-level men’s competition. How’s that for the IOC? Try to sell the TV right for a competition from the 140 jump where the “brave” manage about 90 metres.

    The male jumpers will need to man up.

    Which man who reads this would not be infuriated if any fit, athletic, daring lady were disallowed from joining the local XC club, based solely on gender?

    Man up!

  • Martin Hall

    December 18, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Jacques, you can’t do the old apples to oranges thing and get away with it—as you can see the girls—oops–ladies nailed you to the cross. What do you think the men’s results looked like in the their first years at the Olympics—just go back 25 years and you can find 40 point spreads in the first 15 skiers–yes, that’s those high flying men jumping that poorly by your standards—40 points–that’s a lot.
    So, to compare women to men, after the men have been coming to the Olympics forever—not fair—but, you are the president, so you can see it anyway you want to.
    Then comparing woman’s athletic abilities to the men—-how could anyone with Dr. in front of their name fall into that trap! I think the women are starting to get under your skin and effected your ability to think and be rational. I guess you don’t understand physiology or biomechanics and the differences between the 2 sexes and why we have the two different competitive calendars and programs for each sex—in every sport.
    I think the ladies have you by the short hairs and are squeezing real tight with aplomb, intelligence, and maturity that far out ways your demonstrations this past year. Even if you win—you have lost and have shown that you are what your are—a pompous ass.

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