IOC gives go ahead to women’s ski jumpLONDON - After an unsuccessful legal battle for inclusion at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, women’s ski jumping won its place on the program for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia on Wednesday.
The International Olympic Committee executive board also approved the addition of men’s and women’s ski half-pipe, mixed relay in biathlon and team events in luge and figure skating.
“The inclusion of these events .?.?. is sure to be appreciated by athletes and sports fans alike,’’ IOC President Jacques Rogge said. “These are exciting, entertaining events that perfectly complement the existing events on the sports program, bring added appeal and increase the number of women participating at the games.’’
Proposals for the inclusion of slopestyle events in snowboard and freestyle skiing and a team Alpine skiing event were put on hold for further review.
The IOC twice rejected women’s ski jumping for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, saying the sport lacked enough elite competitors. Women jumpers took their case to the Supreme Court of Canada, but failed to overturn the IOC decision.
The women seemingly sealed their case at the Nordic world championships in Oslo in early March, when competitors jumped in heavy fog and strong winds. IOC board member Gerhard Heiberg of Norway said he was impressed by the level of competition and would recommend including the event.
If you compared the previous world championships to the first one, there was much more quality and depth compared to 2009,’’ IOC sports director Christophe Dubi said. “At the time you had a handful of really good jumpers. If you compare 2009 and 2011, you have a really wide increase of technical capability.’’
Ski jumping and Nordic combined, which feature ski jumping and cross-country skiing, have been the only Winter Olympic events open only to men. Wednesday’s decision leaves the latter as the last event without gender equity.
“Obviously for Nordic combined there is not yet the universality and the numbers to consider it an Olympic sport,’’ Rogge said. “You need more competition. You need more international participation. Hopefully, the example of women’s ski jumping will serve as a catalyst for that sport, too.’’
The IOC said in October it “looked favorably’’ on all the proposed events but postponed a ruling until after various world championships this winter.
Dubi said more time was needed to study the technical aspects of the slopestyle and alpine team events but they could still be added to the Sochi program. A final decision is expected in late May or early June, Dubi said.
In slopestyle, athletes do tricks while going down the mountain and through “features’’ - rails, big jumps and bumps. Snowboard star Shaun White has said he would like to add slopestyle to his schedule if it’s approved.