Olympic Committee Rescinds Sex-Change Requirement for Female Short Hill Ski Jumpers

April 7, 2011

Finally, a partial victory for qualifying female athletes fighting for the right to compete in Olympic Ski Jump events. Today the International Olympic Committee removed the Medical Gender Reassignment requirement imposed on female skiers to compete at the Olympic level in small hill ski-jumping events. It’s been a long protracted battle against entrenched sexist ideas about female athleticism in the male sports establishment. In 2005, Gian Franco Kasper the president of the International Ski Federation explained the prohibition against female ski-jumpers: “Don’t forget, it’s like jumping down from, let’s say, about two meters on the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view”.

In 2008 the Olympic Committee claimed gender exclusion of female ski-jumpers was not discriminatory. President Jacques Rogge stated that the decision “was made strictly on a technical basis, and absolutely not on gender grounds.” “This is not discrimination.This is just the respect of essential technical rules that say to become an Olympic sport, a sport must be widely practised around the world . . . and have a big appeal. This is not the case for women’s ski jumping so there is no discrimination what so ever.”

But the numbers contradicted his claims. According to Mother Jones: “When the IOC voted in 2006 not to add women’s ski jumping, 83 competitors from 14 nations jumped at the top level, less universality than required to add a new event. But in the same year, women’s skier cross claimed just 30 skiers from 11 nations. The committee added it. (There are also too few male ski jumpers to qualify, but as one of the original 16 Winter Olympic events, their event isn’t subjected to the same rules.)”

A group of athletes sued the Vancouver Organizing Committee for gender discrimination over the issue in Canadian court in anticipation of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that exclusion WAS illegal gender discrimination, but that the Canadian Court had no authority over the activities of the International Olympic Committee on Canadian soil. One of the plaintiffs was Lindsey Van, the athlete who held the world record over all other male and female competitors for long jump on the 95m hill at Vancouver- the very hill she was not permitted to compete on. According to the Olympic Committee the only way she could qualify for competition was to undergo surgical sterilization followed by a two year course of masculinizing testosterone injections and governmental documentation proving that she had renounced her gender. She declined.

Her world record held for two years until the 2010 Olympics (which she was forbidden to compete in). Who knows what would have happened if she had been allowed to compete that day. We’ll never know.

Unfortunately many of the early female groundbreakers in ski-jumping have passed the apex of their careers in the time these policies have been in effect. But thanks to them with today’s ruling females can compete in one ski-jump event without undergoing gender reassignment. Females who want to compete in large hill, team event and Nordic combined are still subject to gender reassignment requirements. But at least the door has been cracked open for female competition in the last male-only events in the Olympic Games.

(The sex-change requirement for female athletes who sought to compete in Olympic boxing events was lifted last year and now all summer Olympic games are open to qualifying females.)

15 Responses to “Olympic Committee Rescinds Sex-Change Requirement for Female Short Hill Ski Jumpers”

  1. GallusMag Says:

    Watch the report at that first link -here it is again- fucking heartbreaking.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/news/story?id=6299377

  2. yttik Says:

    Thanks for the update. No kidding, when I first read an article about this some guy was trying to explain that women couldn’t jump because they didn’t have rudders to steer with. He wrapped it all up fancy in a mansplaining lecture about science and anatomy, but that was the basis of his argument, the penis works as a rudder. I’ll never forget it.

  3. Loup-loup garou Says:

    It’s blindingly obvious that the resistance has to do with the fact that women ski jumpers, at least the ones at this level, have a reasonable chance of beating the men’s records.

    Old-fashioned sports fans can tolerate the idea of women competing equally with men in equestrian events, because it’s the horse that provides the muscle. And then there’s that whole girls and horses thing. True, you can break your neck if you screw up, but the public still sees riding as somehow ladylike. Ski jumping, on the other hand, is perceived as balls-out macho. Hence the anxiety about Lindsay Van — especially since she’s not a fluke.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Totally fierce sport, but also one not specifically designed to favor a male physiology. Here lighter competitors jump farther. Balance is key. OMG the footage of Lindsey doing the summer jumps as a kid in that link. She is so fucking cool. Nike Adidas etc should all be licking her ass and buying her a goddamn mansion. (that is to say offering her multi-million dollar sponsorship deals).

      • FAB Libber Says:

        If this sport is more suited to the female body, it explains firstly why there was no female category of the sport in the olympics (and why they go to great lengths and mansplaining excuses as to why there is no female category).

        What will most likely happen, if the sport is properly opened up to females, is that the sport will be deemed a “chick sport” and thereafter downgraded (out of existence). It happens with everything women are good at (even outside of sport) and always deemed to be trivial and unimportant once females dominate the sport/profession/activity.

      • Loup-loup garou Says:

        Hell yes, she should be getting all kinds of sponsorship deals.

        About the way certain sports are designed — this pisses me off no end. Take gymnastics (please!) Men’s gymnastics emphasizes what an *adult* male body can do. “Women’s” gymnastics, on the other hand, should actually be called “prepubescent girls’ gymnastics.” There’s no reason the events all have to be designed around flexibility rather than strength, except that that’s what the fans want to see. Any sport that requires you to remain physically immature in order to compete is no longer a sport, it’s something else. Art, maybe, but not a kind that appeals to me. (Ballerinas used to be able to have normal bodies before George Balanchine came along and started choreographing moves that required the women dancers to be ultra-light.)

        At the risk of getting into “what about the menz” territory, it seems like every year some 350-pound NFL player dies of heatstroke during spring training. As with “women’s” gymnastics, the sport requires the participants to maintain a dangerous body weight in order to compete simply so the fans can see what they want to see, in this case huge guys knocking each other down.

        There’s no reason pro football couldn’t have an upper weight limit to prevent heatstroke deaths, not to mention brain damage from repeated concussions. They could also go back to lighter protective gear to discourage the kind of tackling that results in head injuries. Fewer players ended up with brain damage back when the sport was more like rugby.

        Then there’s ice-hockey. On the one hand, I consider it highly sexist that women’s ice-hockey does not allow body-checking (because the ladies are delicate!) If men are going to get slammed into by other men, why shouldn’t women get slammed into by other women? However, some hockey fans say that the current women’s game is actually more interesting than the men’s, because skill is more important. In fact, I have heard that women’s hockey today is what men’s hockey used to be like, before it got to be a quasi blood sport.

        It’s unbelievable the way so many people refuse to see how artificial this stuff is. (“Butbutbut that’s just the way men’s and women’s bodies are!! Why can’t you just celebrate that?!?!?!?!?!???????”) Try and bring it up, and you get accused of being utopian.

  4. FAB Libber Says:

    According to the Olympic Committee the only way she could qualify for competition was to undergo surgical sterilization followed by a two year course of masculinizing testosterone injections and governmental documentation proving that she had renounced her gender.

    This is bizarre really, considering steroids are the big no-no in the Olympics, and here they are insisting that one class of competitor takes them (I have the feeling that they would have been disqualified in the end though).

    • GallusMag Says:

      It is totally fucking bizarre. But then she should could have competed. The only way according to their rules. You’re right though, they probably would have found a way around it. It must terrify them that females will probably go on to dominate ski-jump in decades to come. Look how far they’ve come with ZERO support.

      Lindsey Van KICKS ASSSSSSS !!!

  5. Noanodyne Says:

    I’ve had about 5 comments to put up here and the buzzing in my brain from the rage just short circuits any coherency. So I’ll just say, UN FUCKING BELIEVABLE. There, now a few words fitting together:

    I’ve been following the story of the ski jumpers, but hadn’t heard about the fuck-yeah-SRS-and-hormones from those two-faced, lying, uber-overlord, patriarchal fucktwit, misogynist assholes.

    Isn’t this an issue trans nation should get right on??? I mean, the alpha menz are trying to get just ANYONE to get SRS!!! They don’t uuuuunnnnddderrrrrssssttttaaaannnnnddddd how deeply meaningful it is!!!! Isn’t that so much worse than a guy in mustache and tie with a dress on??? Yer stealin’ our genderz!!!!!!!!

  6. Noanodyne Says:

    I have a friend who played college and pro football who is dying of a neurological disorder due to his many concussions. Of course I feel for him as a person. But he has had an active, meaningful role in the system that destroyed his body and brain. Men make the rules and men both benefit and suffer from them. When enough men really get that their precious selves are at long term risk, things will change. Their system, their problem.

    But men either make the rules outright in women’s sports or have a significant role. And we have no power to change any of it except if we get men to agree with us and then it has to be in the men’s best interest (changing the basketball size in women’s pro b-ball was agreed to when it was pointed out that this set it apart from the manly-man version). This is basically just like how we got suffrage for women and it’s pretty fucking debasing. I imagine the reason ski jumping is suddenly being allowed in is solely because of the lawsuit. We got the marathon the same way.

    No sport has been developed by women, specifically for and about women’s bodies and abilities. (Rhythmic gymnastics was developed by pedophiles.) But we have been able to co-opt a few: open-water long-distance swimming, ultra marathons, biathlon and other shooting sports, and now ski jumping. And we’ve also made some team sports better than the versions played by males: rugby, ice hockey, and basketball. It’s been a long fucking slog (and an issue very close to my heart, I’ve been a competitive athlete most of my life and a coach for decades) and I’m so glad we have the Lindsey Van’s (and Vonn’s) of the world to continue fighting the fight. Hard core female athletes are like the radical feminists of the sports world.

    • Loup-loup garou Says:

      Good point about who makes the rules, and what that means for men and women, respectively.

  7. Jilla Says:

    “Rhythmic gymnastics was developed by pedophiles.”

    God how true.

  8. Jilla Says:

    I’ve always been athletic and active. But I dislike the idea of hard competition for females. It’s another example of thinking we’re equal when we can do what they do. We have a better way of this: Practicing athletics for fun, health, leaning cooperation and teamwork (if it’s a team sport) and personal excellence. I think the male model of athleticism is way sick.


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