I live in the Czech Republic. We were very proud to host the first Women's Ski Jumping World Championship event here in Liberec last winter. Even at
that time, there was discussion about the "fact" that very few women were able to compete at a high standard, and for this reason the women's event
had not yet been added to the Olympic list of sports.
Frankly I don't buy this argument with its weak platitudes about "standards". For many athletes, the supreme motivation to train and sacrifice day
in and day out, is the chance to represent their country at an Olympic Games. If women ski jumpers are given the right to compete in the Olympics then
it will attract more of them to the sport, the various federations will get more funding, and the standards will soar.
Lindsey Van is not actually the overall world record holder (for both women and men). I need to clarify this, though, so please don't take my comment
as a negative. Ski jumping world records are hard to quantify as absolutes because every competition hill is different. (This is similar to trying to
establish the relative value of a "Marathon" world record, because every marathon course is different.) True, records are still claimed, but what is
significant is the actual record for all competitions on a particular hill
This is what the jumpers themselves and their coaches look at. It doesn't matter if someone did a 120 meter jump on another hill last week (the men
and women travel to various countries' venues almost every week in the season), what they are interested in, is what competitors have previously done
on the same hill that they have to jump today.
Lindsey Van holds the hill
record for the place where the events are to be held in the 2010 Olympics. That in itself is a heck of an
achievement and to me it's more
important than any "world record", and I guarantee you that she has tremendous respect from her male
colleagues for doing it. It takes a lot of courage to launch yourself down a ski slope at around 90 -- 100 km/hr and hurtle out into empty space,
knowing that you only get one chance to get your landing right and if you don't you could be in a very bad way.
I have to say also that there is no physical reason at all why a woman cannot achieve the longest flight of all time. Lindsey Van or another woman
with her incredible talent (and guts) is quite capable of doing it. The current "ski flying" absolute World Record of 239 meters (780 ft) is held by
Bjørn Einar Romøren, who did it on the huge hill at Planica (in Slovenia) in 2005. Ski flying is similar to ski jumping but it's from a much bigger
Picture this: the jumper goes down a lonnng ramp and then launches into space and covers the length of two football fields in a six-second flight.
Then they have to land on their skis and try to stop without falling over.
It's not for the faint-hearted. But I repeat: there is no
reason why a woman can't beat that record. Just give them the chance!
The key elements to making a good jump are absolute
self-belief, a light body frame with a high power-to-weight ratio, superb "takeoff"
timing and very fast reaction times to correct your flight and set up your landing, excellent balance and spatial awareness -- and
to not "pull out" of the jump too early. Lindsey Van has all of that and she showed it in Liberec. Many of the other women who competed also
demonstrated these qualities. They just need more training, funding and (perhaps) stronger motivation.
I say let them compete! Sooner or later they will
be in the Olympics, and I think sooner is far better than later.
Sorry for the long rave, but I said to my daughter years ago, "You can do anything you want, you can be anything you dream of. Don't let
try to tell you that you can't!"
It angers me that some people's daughters are being told: "No. You can't
compete in the Olympics. You can't
your dream. You're not good enough
Maybe some of these close-minded, outdated, prejudiced decision-makers in the world of sport need to wake up a bit and stop
dreams of young people!
[edit on 14/11/09 by JustMike]