KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - As far as Dusty Korek sees it, a major injustice in ski jumping will come to an end at the Sochi Olympics.
The 18-year-old Canadian was asked at news conference Wednesday what he thought it would be like to be told he couldn’t compete at the Olympics solely because he was male.
As he looked at two teammates - Atsuka Tanaka and Taylor Henrich - who will be making their Olympic debut, Korek said he could understand their frustration “at training every day as hard as we do, and never making it to the ultimate dream of competing on the world’s biggest stage, just because they were women.”
In Sochi, the Olympic program will feature women’s ski jumping for the first time. Korek said the “injustice” had gone on for too long.
FIS, the international ski federation, recommended in the middle of the last decade that women be added, but the International Olympic Committee wasn’t convinced, believing there weren’t enough elite female competitors.
There were other unfounded claims that women’s bodies weren’t able to take the continuous strain of landing.
Former world champion Lindsey Van of the United States, who is competing at Sochi, said she had people ask if her uterus had fallen out as a result of her sport. Van and her American teammate Jessica Jerome were among the top competitors who filed an unsuccessful lawsuit ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Reflecting last year on the lawsuit, Jerome said she “didn’t see it as something noble, I saw it more as a moral responsibility.”
The lawsuit failed, with a Canadian court ruling that the IOC, not Vancouver organizers, was the only body authorized to make the call. But the case generated widespread attention.
In 2011, the IOC finally admitted women jumpers. Men have been competing in Olympic ski jumping since the inaugural Winter Games in 1924.
Henrich, who will compete against Van and Jerome next Tuesday on the normal hill for that long-awaited first women’s ski jumping gold, praised the two Americans - “they fought for us to get here.”
And Tanaka said she felt it was a great privilege to be part of a history-making Sochi competition.
“It has been a dream of mine, and finally we are here,” Tanaka said. “Our women’s ski jumping community got stronger and stronger as the years went by. I think we’re ready now to show everybody what we can do at the Olympics.”
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