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Ski jumpers’ catch-22

In a way, it’s a catch-22 that’s keeping the world’s top female ski jumpers from getting to compete in the 2010 Olympics

In a way, it’s a catch-22 that’s keeping the world’s top female ski jumpers from getting to compete in the 2010 Olympics, the lawyer representing 15 jumpers argued in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday.

Ross Clark, who was speaking during the first day of a discrimination hearing against VANOC, said generations of girls have been discouraged from pursuing a career as ski jumpers because their sport has never been recognized in the Olympics.

In 2006, the IOC voted against including women’s ski jumping in 2010, saying there haven’t been enough world championships, and there aren’t enough competing women, to justify the sport’s inclusion in the Games.

“Historical prejudices have meant there were few competitions, but it’s the lack of competitions that the IOC is using as its justification for barring the women,” Clark said.

“This is a hurdle they can’t overcome through athleticism and determination.”

Norwegian jumper Anette Sagen said athletes need sponsors to fund their careers, but it’s impossible to get sponsored if they aren’t Olympians.

And without the Olympics as a goal, there’s less incentive for women to train at an elite level, added American jumper Lindsey Van, in response to the IOC’s argument that there aren’t enough women competing in the sport.

It was that sense of discouragement that pushed Whistler-based jumper Zoya Lynch to retirement this year.

“It was too hard to balance training and fighting the biggest sport organization in the world,” Lynch, who is still a plaintiff, said. “If they don’t allow women to compete (in 2010) a lot of (other girls) will drop out.”

 
 
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