Women’s ski jumping ratchets up the pressure 

Canadian government to take up cause to IOC

The former mayor of Salt Lake City and current president of Women’s Ski Jumping U.S.A. called on Canadian and U.S. governments and VANOC to put pressure on the International Olympic Committee to reverse its recent decision to exclude women’s ski jumping from the 2010 schedule.

Deedee Corradini, who was the mayor during the 2002 Winter Games, held a press conference during the Canadian National Ski Jumping Championships in Whistler Olympic Park this past weekend to draw attention to the sport, and pulled no punches in.

“My understanding is it’s against federal and provincial law in Canada to spend government money on facilities that discriminate,” she said. “To have a men’s only sign on these ski jumps seems to be discriminatory and contrary to Canada’s own human rights act.”

Although women weren’t exactly banned from the jumps — America’s Lindsay Van even out-jumped the top men on Saturday’s competition by about four metres — it’s been a sore spot for female competitors since the IOC rejected a recent application to add women’s ski jumping to the Olympic program in 2010.

Women’s ski jumping also enjoys wide support from VANOC, which has pledged to accommodate the sport if approved by the IOC, as well as Ski Jumping Canada. Members of provincial and federal governments also back the inclusion of women’s ski jumping, including Colin Hansen, B.C.’s Olympic minister, and David Emerson, the federal minister responsible for the 2010 Games.

Both responded to Corradini’s challenge by saying they support women’s ski jumping, and Emerson pledged to work on the case with Helena Guergis, the minister of state for sport, when he returns from a trade trip to Asia next week.

The biggest boost for the cause came on Tuesday, when the federal government announced a settlement with a group of female ski jumpers that filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission almost a year ago. The federal government agreed to lobby the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to include the sport, and to bring the topic up at a meeting with IOC officials in Vancouver in February. IOC president Jacques Rogge will be part of the delegation visiting Vancouver, and will meet with Helena Guergis.

“This is not a criteria issue, this is a women’s issue,” said Guergis, who also rejected the argument that it might be too late to add women’s ski jumping to the schedule in 2010.

Joan McIntyre, the MLA for Whistler, also released a statement in support of the ski jumpers, pledging to add her voice in support. She also pledged to offer her support to help ski jumping meet the IOC’s criteria in time for 2010.

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