Just last Tuesday, a group of women athletes made Olympic history by competing in the first women’s ski jumping event at the winter games.
Up until the 2014 games in Sochi, women have never had the ability to compete in this particular sport at the Olympics.
Blair Tomten, a 31-year-old ski jumper, was present at this year’s games and watched from the stands with pride.
“This is all I ever wanted, the Olympics; it was 20 years of my life…But to know that there’s this opportunity for women now, I can’t even begin to explain how amazing that feels.”
There is a hint of sadness behind Tomten’s words, as she had quit the sport to attend college since the possibility of competing at the Olympics was unavailable.
The men’s ski jumping event was added to the Winter Olympics in 1924. For 90 years, the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) and the International Ski Federation (F.I.S.), had stalled in opening up this competition for women.
According to the New York Times, in 2005 the F.I.S. Gian-Franco Kasper stated that he felt women should not compete in ski jumping “because it ‘seems not to be appropriate from a medical point of view.’”
In contrast, the I.O.C. had officially ruled in the past that women’s ski jumping simply did not have enough elite competitors for it to qualify for an Olympic event.
In 2010, American ski jumpers Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome, with a group of fellow female ski jumpers, sued the Vancouver Olympics for to include women’s ski jumping in the games. In 2011, the I.O.C. finally gave in.
Despite this victory for women ski jumpers, they are still not included in the large hill or the team event.
While the reasoning behind lack of inclusion in the team event due to a lack of female competitors may be true, there is no reason women should not be allowed to compete in the large hill event.
Women competed on the large hill event in the World Cup event in years prior, and the U.S. national championships have been held on the large hill as well. Perhaps it will be another 8 years before women are included in these additional events, but the I.O.C. can be sure of one thing; these female athletes are not going to give up.
In the women’s ski jumping event at Sochi, Carina Vogt of Germany became the first woman to win gold in women’s ski jumping, while Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria, took silver, and Coline Mattel of France, finished third.
American ski jumper Jessica Jerome finished 10th.