women's ski jumping, women's olympic ski jumping
Nathan Bilow/AP Photo, File
Lindsay Van takes flight en route to winning the women's division of the U.S. Jumping
Championships on the K90 in Steamboat Springs, Colo., on Jan. 22, 2006.

Canadian Supreme Court Won’t Hear Women Ski Jumpers’ Case

December 22, 2009 04:45 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
The women insisted that Canada must legally include their sport in the 2010 winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, but every level of court has ruled against them.

Every Option Exhausted

The case was “an appeal of lower court rulings,” according to Reuters. The lower court decided that Canada could not legally require the International Olympic Committee to include women’s ski jumping in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Deedee Corradini, the president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, said that despite being “hugely disappointed,” the women would not stop pursuing their case, Reuters reported.

Details of the Supreme Court decision regarding women’s ski jumping are provided on the official Web site, although, according to Reuters, Canada’s Supreme Court typically withholds its “reasons for refusing to hear appeals and did not in this case.”

Opinion & Analysis: Support for the IOC’s Decision

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Toronto Star sports writer Dave Perkins spoke out in defense of the IOC. Perkins wrote, “the one thing for which the IOC deserves credit … is the inclusion of women’s sports in the Games.” He also noted that women’s hockey is “one of the least competitive sports on the Olympic calendar,” and features an unbalanced roster of teams dominated by the U.S. and Canada. Perkins suggests that the IOC’s determination to hold off on allowing women’s ski jumping could have been influenced by the women’s hockey situation.

Potential for “watered down” competition

According to ESPN, the IOC determined that the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games, an inaugural event being held in Innsbruck, Austria, would include a female ski jumping competition. The IOC has also said the 2013 Sochi Winter Olympics are not out of the question for women’s ski jumpers.

Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, explained earlier in December that female ski jumpers simply did not meet Olympic standards. He noted that there are more than 2,500 male registered ski jumpers, and only 164 registered women. Furthermore, said Rogge, only 15 of the 164 women are “technically very able” ski jumpers.

According to ESPN, Rogge said, “[w]e did not want the medals to be watered down by too little a pool of very good jumpers.”

Background: Previous Rulings for Women’s Ski Jumpers

In early December, female ski jumpers and their lawyer, Ross Clark, appeared determined to pursue every available option that might ensure their spot in the 2010 games.

In November, a court of appeal upheld a previous ruling by the British Columbia Supreme Court, which said the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) had not “discriminated against the women on the basis of their sex,” according to the Vancouver Sun. The ruling also said that the IOC would not be held to the standards of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  

Anita DeFrantz, chair of the IOC's Women and Sports Commission, called the situation “a textbook case of discrimination,” according to Christa Case Bryant in The Christian Science Monitor. One of the IOC’s arguments for not allowing women’s ski jumping is that the field is too small, and not as competitive as that of sports like alpine skiing or figure skating.

But other women’s events “with weak fields,” including bobsleigh and ski cross, have recently been added to the Olympic Games roster, suggesting “the issue is not as clear-cut as either side asserts,” according to Bryant.

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