IOC set to approve women's ski jumping for Sochi

Published April 04, 2011

| Associated Press

After a five-year wait and an unsuccessful legal battle to get into the 2010 Vancouver Games, women's ski jumping is set to take its place on the Olympic program this week.

Women's jumping is among six events up for consideration by the International Olympic Committee for inclusion in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

The IOC executive board, which opens a two-day meeting in the British capital on Tuesday, also will review guidelines for gender tests in the wake of the Caster Semenya case and examine preparations for the 2012 London Games.

The IOC is meeting in London in conjunction with the annual SportAccord conference, a sports industry convention attended by 1,500 delegates. The three cities bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics — Annecy, France; Munich; and Pyeonchang, South Korea — will make presentations to a key international audience just three months before the IOC vote.

Top of the agenda for IOC President Jacques Rogge and the executive board is a decision on new events for Sochi, including slopestyle in snowboard and freestyle skiing.

The IOC said in October that it "looked favorably" on the six proposed events but postponed a ruling until after the various world championships this winter. The IOC gave Rogge the mandate to make the final decision himself, but he is expected to seek the board's approval Wednesday.

IOC officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because an announcement hasn't been made yet, told The Associated Press that women's jumping is virtually certain to be accepted. Several, but not all, of the other events also should go through.

Ski jumping and Nordic combined, which features ski jumping and cross-country skiing, are the only Winter Olympic events open only to men.

The IOC twice turned down women's ski jumping for inclusion in Vancouver, saying the sport lacked enough elite competitors. Women jumpers took their case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, but failed to overturn the IOC decision.

The women seemingly sealed their case at the Nordic world championships in Oslo in early March, when competitors jumped in heavy fog and strong winds. IOC board member Gerhard Heiberg of Norway said he was impressed by the level of competition and would recommend the event's inclusion to Rogge.

Also seeking approval are slopestyle events in snowboard and Alpine freestyle, ski halfpipe, mixed relay in biathlon, and team events in figure skating and luge. A team event in Alpine skiing was rejected in October, but FIS is still pushing for its inclusion.

The addition of slopestyle and ski halfpipe events would be the latest push by the IOC to bring in events that appeal to youth. Skicross made its debut in Vancouver.

In slopestyle, athletes do tricks while going down the mountain and through "features" — rails, big jumps and bumps. American snowboard star Shaun White, who won halfpipe gold in Vancouver, has said he would like to add slopestyle to his schedule if it's approved for Sochi.

Ski slopestyle is similar to the snowboard version.

In ski halfpipe, skiers score points for performing tricks and jumps on the same course used for the snowboard halfpipe.

Meanwhile, IOC medical commission chairman Arne Ljungqvist is expected to submit a report to the board on guidelines for dealing with athletes with ambiguous sexual characteristics.

The issue gained global attention with the dispute involving Semenya, the South Africa runner who was ordered to undergo gender tests after winning the 800 meters at the 2009 world championships.

Ljungqvist has said the rules will apply for the London Olympics and also serve as recommendations for all international federations to follow in their own sports.

The IOC has been working on the guidelines with track and field's governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations.

On other matters, the IOC will receive progress reports from organizers of the London, Sochi and Rio de Janeiro Games and get an update on the suspension of the Kuwait and Ghana national Olympic committees.

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