Vancouver downhill gold medalist Lindsey Vonn has asked the International Ski Federation (FIS) for the opportunity to compete against the men at a race in Alberta, Canada next month.
“We have been talking about it but no decision has been taken yet,” said World Cup race director Atle Skaardal. “It’s matter that the FIS Council has to examine during its next meeting in November. It’s necessary to go through the rules to see if there is a way to do this, and also a reason to do it.”
Rules state that competitors aren’t allowed to test course more than a week before an event, so organizers question whether Vonn would have an advantage over the women on the same course later in the season. Vonn doesn’t seem to be looking for that advantage, but wants to boost the sport’s profile for women, according to Reuters. Experts estimate she’d finish about five seconds behind the men.
Vonn would definitely have some supporters, and a bit of history on her side. Here’s a quick look at four female athletes who famously stood up against the men and won:
Jackie Mitchell: Her appearance for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts was deemed a publicity stunt… right up until she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, back-to-back, on only seven pitches during an exhibition game against the Yankees in 1931. Oh, and Mitchell was only 17-years-old at the time.
Babe Zaharias: After winning two golds in track at the 1932 Los Angeles Games, Zaharias turned to golf. She eventually won 41 LPGA titles and 10 majors and in 1945 started competing on the PGA tour. Babe made several cuts and finished 33rd at the Phoenix Open, but was kept out of the 1948 U.S. Open for being a lady.
Billie Jean King: She won 129 world titles, including 16 majors, and then famously went head-to-head with retired male pro Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. King beat Riggs handily to win the $100,000 prize. She also won the battle for women to receive equal pay at major events when the U.S. Open agreed in 1973.
Danica Patrick: She’s always raced men, but long faced criticism for never winning a race, despite finishing fourth at the Indy 500 during her rookie season in 2005. Patrick finally took the checkered flag at the ’08 Japan 300, then finished third at Indy in ’09. Now she looks to be the first woman to win a NASCAR race.