Corradini pushes for women's ski jumping in 2010 Olympics

Updated: January 5, 2008, 9:04 PM ET
Associated Press

WHISTLER, British Columbia -- The president of Women's Ski Jumping USA called for the federal and provincial governments and Vancouver organizers to push the International Olympic Committee to add women's ski jumping to the 2010 Winter Games.

Deedee Corradini, the mayor of Salt Lake City when the city secured the 2002 Winter Games, noted $580 million of Canadian taxpayer money has helped the Vancouver Olympic Games Organizing Committee build Olympic facilities.

"My understanding is it's against federal and provincial law in Canada to spend government money on facilities that discriminate," Corradini said Saturday during a news conference at the Canadian ski jumping championships.

"To have a men's only sign on these ski jumps seems to be discriminatory and contrary to Canada's own human rights act."

The IOC voted against allowing women's ski jumping in Vancouver, arguing the sport isn't developed enough and that it doesn't meet the basic criteria for inclusion.

Corradini said statistics show there are more women ski jumpers in the world than female athletes in other Winter Olympic sports. The first women's world championships will be held next year and there will be four world junior championship before 2010.

"Our hope is that VANOC and the federal government and the provincial government could all get together," she said. "The facts are there. [Maybe] the IOC misunderstood the facts. If they could be convinced how the sport has grown, maybe we could persuade them that [women jumpers] will be ready in 2010.

"I think Canada is the key as a host country. The U.S. can't do it, other countries around the world can't make this change. It has to be Canada because you are hosting the Games."

Harry Bains, a member of the British Columbia legislature and the provincial NDP's Olympic critic, said keeping women's ski jumpers out of the Games goes against Canadian values of equality and inclusion.

"I think it's high time all levels of government and VANOC gets serious about this issue and brings the equality back," said Bains, who joined Corradini in front of the ski jump hill that will be used for the 2010 Games.

David Emerson, Canada's federal minister responsible for the 2010 Games, said it's "extremely disappointing" women are not being allowed to ski jump at the Olympics.

"Ski jumping is an important sport and we're investing a lot in jumping and training facilities in Canada and to not have women able to participate on the same basis as men, to me, I just don't think it's right," he told reporters at Vancouver International Airport before leaving on a trade mission to Asia.

Emerson said he'll be discussing the issue with Helena Guergis, the minister of state for sport, when he returns from his trip.

John Heilig, VANOC's manager for ski jumping and Nordic combined, said if the IOC accepted women's ski jumping the event could be accommodated in the Vancouver Games schedule.

"VANOC has said if women's ski jumping was accepted, then we would provide what they require," Heilig said. "This is an IOC decision."

Heilig, the father of four daughters, said he personally supports women's ski jumpers.

"I love to see the women out here," he said. "I think women's jumping is an exceptional part of ski jumping."

A group of Canadian women ski jumpers have filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Right Commission, arguing the Olympic movement is discriminating against them. That complaint was heard last September and a decision is expected soon.

"We're very hopeful," said Sarah Lynch, the mother of ski jumper Zoya Lynch. "As a parent, as a female, as a Canadian, it really is discrimination. There is no reason why it should not be in there."

While Corradini and members of the Canadian ski team are vocal in their dissent, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association is taking a more diplomatic tact.

The association is the governing body for ski sports in the U.S., including jumping. Tom Kelly, vice president of communication, refused to say if he thought women were being discriminated against.

"We have great respect for the process the IOC has for bringing the sport into the Olympics," he said in a telephone interview. "We were disappointed when the IOC made it's decision [on 2010.]

"We are very optimistic for 2014. The first world championships will be held next year and that is a critical event in the growth of the sport. When we get to the world championships, and the world sees what these women can do, that is a great message to send to the IOC."

Ron Read, high performance director for the Canadian Ski Jumping Association, said he believes women's ski jumping is just as competitive as other women's sports at the Olympics.

"If you took all 13 of the Winter Olympic sports, I believe women's ski jumping would be in the top half for numbers, for a competitive field," he said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press