Vancouver downhill gold medalist Lindsey Vonn’s formal request to face-off against the men at a World Cup race in Lake Louise, Alberta later this month has been rejected by the International Ski Federation over the weekend, seemingly on the grounds that they just don’t like the idea very much.
“The Council respected Lindsey Vonn’s proposal to participate in men’s World Cup races and confirmed that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other and exceptions will not be made to the FIS Rules,” read a statement released by the FIS.
“In terms of her request to participate in the men’s downhill at Lake Louise, she is welcome to submit a request to the Organizing Committee and jury to be a forerunner.”
A forerunner is essentially someone who skis the course to make sure there are no problems. Their time is kept and marked, but the results are not part of the official competition and are not released to anyone but the athlete. They alone have the freedom to make it public.
Austria’s Marlies Schild set the precedent for Vonn when she skied as a forerunner at a slalom race in her home country earlier this year. Marlies would have finished in the top 30.
Similarly American gold medalist Bode Miller skied as a forerunner for a women’s race in 2003 during a rough patch when he failed to finish four out of five men’s races and was looking to get back on track.
“I saw it as a great opportunity to raise the profile of the sport by attracting interest from people who do not normally follow ski racing, particularly in North America,” Apline Canada President Max Gartner said in a statement after being disappointed by the outcome. “It would have provided a great platform to showcase our sport and the amazing athletic performances of our athletes.”
Vonn, a four-time women’s World Cup downhill champ, hasn’t released a statement regarding her feelings on the FIS’s decision or whether she’ll submit a request to be a forerunner for the Lake Louise race, but we’re certain this won’t be the last time she tries to get on the slopes with the men.