We’ve all heard of the breakthrough on the Olympics stage for women, as women’s ski jumping became an event, where women had been barred from the event since the inaugural ski jump of the modern Olympics in the 1920s. German ski-jumper Carina Vogt became the first gold medalist, in what seemed like a victory for female athletes and women’s rights advocates everywhere. Well, maybe almost.
While it was true that women were allowed to do the ski jump, men were also allowed to jump from a larger hill, and women are still barred from this particular jump. A 95 meter hill is the norm for ski jumping, but men are also allowed to jump off a 125 meter hill. So, we will all remember this as a monumental movement for women’s Olympic events, but as is the usual case, there is much work to be done. Deedee Corradini, president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, shared similar sentiments: “Now we have to work on 2018 getting women on the large hill and a team event.”
But, that may prove to be difficult, as IOC sports director Christophe Dubi is using the exact same reason for a lack of equality in events that his IOC used in Vancouver in 2006, when female athletes filed a lawsuit against the Vancouver Organizing Committee for a discrepancy in events for men and women. There simply was not enough entries to make the competition… well, competitive, apparently. And, this makes perfect sense, considering that there has never been a women’s ski jumping event, so why would Olympic athletes be trained for an event that never existed?
But Christophe Dubi was rather frustrated with all the questions regarding an inclusion of a higher ski jump for women. “You remember the debate regarding women’s ski jumping and at the time it was considered that we didn’t have the depth and number of jumpers for Vancouver. We don’t need to go back to these arguments,” he said. Well, apparently, it does still need to happen, because although the aforementioned lawsuit against the Vancouver Organizing Committee was unsuccessful, women’s ski jump became an event in 2014. It’s reasonable to think that this lawsuit, successful or not, attracted more attention to the event.
The only other event women can’t participate in is the Nordic Combine, which is a ski jump followed by a 10 kilometer cross-country race. So, once that becomes a female event, and once women can jump from the same heights, we’re good, right? Well, these discrepancies are seen across the board, in all actuality. For example, in biathlon: “The women compete in a 7.5K sprint, a 10K individual pursuit, a 15K individual race, a 12.5K mass start and a 4x6K relay. The men’s distances for the same races are 10K, 12.5K, 20K, 15K and 4×7.5K.” Cross country is no different: “the men’s races are anywhere from 50% to 100% longer than the women’s. The longest women’s race is 30K. The men go 50.” Finally, in long-track speedskating, “the men’s longest race is 10,000 meters. The women’s is 5,000. In short track, the men skate a 5,000-meter relay; the women go 3,000.”
I am one of the people that thinks we need more positive stories in the news cycle and more news on the campaigns for equal rights from around the country and the globe. The inclusion of women’s ski jumping is a monumental milestone and is certainly newsworthy, but the media as a whole only goes half the distance. Or perhaps, 3000 meters as opposed to the full 5000 meters, or a 95 meter jump as opposed to a 125 meter jump. Either way, the media needs to go the full distance, and our female Olympics athletes need to be allowed to. Some light should be shed on what lies behind the shroud of equal rights that the media has created, in the Olympics as well as many other facets of society, which is a plethora of short changings for half of our population.