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Female ski jumpers hit out after being banned from Olympic event over ‘baggy clothes’: ‘Why only girls?’

‘I have been checked so many times in 11 years of ski jumping, and I have never been disqualified once. I know my suit was compliant’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 08 February 2022 16:03
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Related video: Canada’s ski jumpers surprise with bronze medal at Beijing 2022

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Five female ski jumpers, representing Austria, Japan, Norway, and Germany, were disqualified from the mixed team event at the Beijing Winter Olympics because their outfits were considered too baggy, supposedly giving them more airtime.

The suits used by the jumpers who were banned from the event had been approved for other competitions.

“The [International Ski Federation] destroyed everything with this operation. I think they have destroyed women’s ski jumping,” Germany’s Katharina Althaus said, according to yahoo!sports. “I have been checked so many times in 11 years of ski jumping, and I have never been disqualified once. I know my suit was compliant.”

Ms Althaus has competed in three Olympic Games and won a silver medal in 2018. “160 World Cup starts, 5x World Championships, 3x Olympic Games and I got DSQ for the first time,” she wrote on Instagram. “My heart is broken.”

Karl Geiger, another German ski jumper, posted on social media: “We stick together no matter what!”

“Nevertheless, I have to ask myself whether the regulations for the women were changed overnight, with so many disqualifications?!?” he asked. “It was neither the right time nor the right place to disqualify so many athletes from different nations.”

“It is just strange that they have been using the same suits yesterday and there was no problem,” Stefan Horngacher, the coach for the German team, told yahoo!sports. “It is annoying that this happens at the Winter Olympic Games. This should all be cleared before.”

Norweigan ski jumping boss Clas Brede Braathen added: “I am sorry on behalf of ski jumping.”

“This is something we should have cleaned up in before the Olympics. The sport of ski jumping has experienced one of its darker days today,” he added.

Mr Braathen noted that the sport has been faulted for failing to accommodate women and that the disqualifications could slash the progress that has been made.

“I’m lost for words, really,” he said. “This is very painful for the athletes. I’m in pain on behalf of our sport. We were going to introduce a new event. The girls were to get a new event in the Olympics, and that’s how it ends. And why are only girls being disqualified?”

It has taken decades of struggle for women’s ski jumping to be added to the Olympics with sexist and ignorant arguments being used to resist the development of the sport.

“Don’t forget it’s like jumping down ... on the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view,” the former head of the International Ski Federation, Gian Franco Kaspar, said in 2005.

The International Olympic Committee agreed to add women’s ski jumping to the Games in 2014, with the mixed team jump event joining this year.

Slovenia won the mixed team event, with the Russian Olympic Committee grabbing this silver and Canada taking the bronze.

“Equipment is very important in sport and disqualifications happen,” Abigail Strate of Canada said, according to yahoo!sports. “It’s a very common thing to happen in ski jumping and the fact that it happened at the Olympics just goes to show that they were taking the rules pretty strictly and seriously because it is the absolute highest level of sport.”

Ms Strate was asked if the disqualifications made winning the medal bittersweet.

“I don’t think this is a bittersweet medal at all,” she said. “I think it’s as sweet as a medal can come.”

“Even if you count all the distances and judge points from the unlucky ones on today’s competition, we should still be first, so it’s still great,” Slovenian Peter Prevc added.

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