Women who ski jump, for fun and discrimination

AfterEllen.com reader heygirlhey recently brought to my attention the plight of women who spend their free time doing this:

Karla Keck

Yes, I’m talking about that other misunderstood and rejected minority group: women who ski jump. (For fun, I mean, not because they’re racing away from an avalanche.) I’ll admit I think they’re slightly crazy, but I spend my free time watching bad lesbian movies, so who am I to judge?

And it is pretty cool watching them do this:

Lindsey Vonn

But that’s the problem — you can’t actually watch women ski jump, at least not at the Winter Olympics, because Women’s Ski Jumping was rejected for inclusion in the 2010 Winter Olympics. In announcing the decision in 2006, IOC vice president Gunilla Lindberg said, "In our analysis, there are not enough athletes and not enough countries [participating]."

But as the Wikipedia entry on ski jumping notes, "Currently there are 135+ athlete competing on an international level [in women's ski jumping], which is more than snowcross, ski cross, bobsleigh, skeleton, and luge" All of which are Winter Olympics events open to both men and women, while ski jumping and nordic remain open only to men.

IOC president Jacques Rogge has stated that they don’t allow women ski jumpers in the Olympics because, “We do not want the medals to be diluted and watered down.”

Ironically, the current world-record holder for the longest jump on the Vancouver ski jump is a woman — 23-year-old American Lindsey Van:

Lindsey Van

It’s not just Wikipedia and women’s ski jumping sites that are pointing out the obvious double-standard being employed here — mainstream media outlets like The Denver Post, Minnesota’s Public Radio, Canada’s The Province, and About.com’s Women’s Issues column are joining the call for the Olympics committee to end this discrimination. There’s even a documentary about their quest for equality, called Jump Like a Girl. And you know you’re doing something wrong when people are making documentaries about it.

What can you do to help? Sign the official petition to Let Women Ski Jump in 2010 at www.wsj2010.com, and adopt a U.S. women’s ski jumper today!

2008 U.S. Ski Jumping Team (l to r) Alissa Johnson, Jessica Jerome, Lindsey Van, Brenna Ellis, Avery Ardovino, Abby Hughes

(OK, so maybe you don’t get a skier in exchange for signing the petition, but could they be any cuter?)

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