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SBD Global/October 26, 2012/People and Pop Culture

FIS President: Vonn's Quest To Race Men Unlikely, But A 'Good Publicity Stunt'

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U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn will race in Saturday's season opening giant slalom in Sölden, Austria.
Int'l Ski Federation (FIS) President GIAN FRANCO KASPER said that "no official request has arrived yet" at FIS headquarters in Switzerland from U.S. skier LINDSEY VONN, who recently said she "wants to start in the men's downhill race at Lake Louise," Canada. Kasper said, "The only thing there is, is a phone call from Lindsey Vonn to one of our race directors asking, 'What do you think, could I start in the men’s downhill race in Lake Louise?' That’s all there is. We have told her that the U.S. ski federation would have to submit an official request." Kaspar said that even if the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association submits an official request, it is not likely that Vonn will get the OK. Kasper said, "She doesn't have any points that would qualify her to start. She has women’s world cup points but no men’s world cup points. In addition, it is clear that she would not be allowed to start twice in Lake Louise -- one weekend in the men’s downhill and the following weekend in the women’s downhill race. This would give her an unfair advantage and is simply unacceptable, which means she would have to forgo the women’s race."

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Kasper said he heard Vonn saying in a TV interview "that she is definitely not going to forgo the women's race." Should FIS allow Vonn to start in the men's downhill race, it could lead to unprecedented scenarios. Kasper: "Furthermore, we cannot have a ruling just for one athlete. If we allow Lindsey Vonn to start in a men’s race then we would have to allow it to everybody else as well. It would be really awkward if male athletes decide they want to start in women’s races, especially in cross-country skiing. It clearly would be unfair toward the women. As I said, if FIS makes a ruling it has to apply for every athlete and not just for one individual." Despite all this, the 68-year-old president would be willing to discuss an official request by the USSA at FIS' next board meeting at the end of October. In Kasper's personal view, Vonn has already achieved what she wanted. Kasper: "The whole thing is simply a very good publicity stunt."
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