I'll be honest, I don't watch a lot of ski jumping because I tend to hold my breath from the time they jump until the time they land. This causes me to lose my breath and I get a little light headed which is something I tend to avoid when I'm trying to watch television. So I was pretty surprised to learn that, while there is a men's ski jump, of course there is, we've all seen it, there is no women's event, or Nordic combined for that matter, which is cross-country skiing combined with ski jumping. Why is there no women's event? Is it because you can't fit a ski jump in the kitchen? I jest, but seriously, it's not that far off.
This extensive and well-researched post by Associate Professor of Digital Filmmaking Ruth Gregory highlights two of three reasons the International Olympic Committee has kept women from ski jumping. The first one is just mean, that they aren't good enough and it would cheapen the value of a gold medal. To their point, there wasn't a World Cup event to pull talent from, but that's because the governing body of skiing, the International Ski Federation (FIS) denied them until 2009. The second reason is another one of questionable validity, brought up in this article by Sarah Amandolare; IOC members have admitted to considering how well an event will sell tickets or show on television before allowing it to be an Olympic sport. The third reason, and this is one I cannot believe, is that ski jumping can damage women's ovaries. The president of the FIS, Gian-Franco Kasper, told NPR that ski jumping "seems to be not appropriate for the ladies from a medical point of view."
These reasons prompted fifteen women jumpers to file suit against the Vancouver Organizing Committee, who is responsible for Olympic organizing and has received public tax monies to do it, on grounds that it is discriminating against them based on gender. They've lost at every level of court, and most recently the Canadian Supreme Court decided not to hear their case after a court of appeals decided that they weren't being discriminated against based on gender, and that the IOC isn't bound by Canadian law. One IOC member, Walter Sieber, even cited that they'd recently added women's boxing to the summer, so it couldn't be that it was about gender. Maybe he thinks punching women is better than letting them jump in the air.
Allow me to take the IOC to task on all three of these reasons. First of all, women's ski jump can't be any less entertaining than men's ski jump, it just can't. I will hypoventilate regardless of the gender of the flying human. Secondly, how deep can the pool of talent be for skeleton? Allegedly, there's at least 80 world-class women ski jumpers from 14 countries. Thirdly, as a man with testicles that I store in temperature-sensitive elastic bag that hangs between my legs, I can assure you that, compared to them, ovaries and uteri are quite safe. You can't tell me that those horrid little creatures you called gymnasts in China had healthy reproductive systems, not to mention the fact that, and I know this may be shocking, but not all women are trying to have children.
If all of this seems awesome and you'd like to see it represented as a moving picture, or if all of this seems terribly boring and you need to see it represented as a moving picture, you won't have to wait long; Virginia Madsen is producing Fighting Gravity, a documentary that will cover the case against the IOC.
Even though it's too late for the Games in Vancouver, to the FIS and the IOC, I say this: Nordic combined and ski jump are the last two events that do not have a women's division. Those of you that stand against this, in twenty years, will anyone really look back and wonder who made such an idiotic decision as to let women jump off a big ass ramp on skis? If they do that, do you think you'll have trouble defending yourself? The best thing and worst thing to happen to ski jumping has already happened and is documented in this video below:
In closing, let them jump!