Saturday, February 17, 2007

Let them jump!

The arguments against women participating in ski jumping are antiquated and include something about all that pressure on their bones from landing. Hello? Gymnastics? Figure skating?
But the women ski jumpers have not backed down and recently filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in an attempt to force the International Olympic Committee to add women's ski jumping to the program in Vancouver in 2010. Because the Olympics are funded, in part, by Canadian federal monies, the jumpers contend that excluding the sport amounts to gender discrimination which is illegal, of course, in Canada.
It is an interesting strategy but it reads like what it truly is: a last-ditch effort. The CHRC seemingly has little actual power; it is only a "quasi-judicial body" and though it might voice a strong objection to the exclusion or pass the complaint on to some other federal body, it is difficult to imagine the IOC backing down--especially given that they have already said women would compete in ski jumping in 2014--when it feels there will be stronger competition.
Hard to see how women's hockey made it in under that rationale. Until Torino every Olympic and World Championship gold medal game had been a contest between Canada and the United States (which are also the countries which have produced the top women ski jumpers to date).
Ski jumping seems to be suffering a little from its relative obscurity. Indeed it is a gender issue and very much counter to an Olympic ideal of fairness, but it is harder to get people to rally around something they only see every four years.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how CHRC responds to the complaint.

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