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SBD Global/November 5, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Lindsey Vonn's Request To Race Men At Lake Louise Rejected By FIS

The request of U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn "to race against the men on the world cup circuit this month in Canada was rejected by the Int'l Ski Federation (FIS)," according to Danielle Rossingh of BLOOMBERG. Vonn "asked the sports governing body in early October to be able to compete in a men's downhill on Nov. 24 in Lake Louise, Alberta." FIS said in an emailed statement that "although the federation said it 'respected,' Vonn's proposal, it 'confirmed that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other, and exceptions will not be made to the FIS Rules'" (BLOOMBERG, 11/4). REUTERS' Patrick Lang reported that "the news came as a disappointment to Alpine Canada President Max Gartner." Gartner said, "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." The world and Olympic champion "could still apply to ski down the piste as a forerunner," a skier who opens the course for the competitors, which would allow her to test herself against the men. If she did this, however, "she would not be allowed to participate in the women's event in Lake Louise six days later" (REUTERS, 11/3). The AFP reported that Vonn "dismissed talks last week that her campaign to race against men was a mere public relations stunt." Vonn said, "It's a serious wish on my part. I already discussed this a few years ago with my coaches and friends" (AFP, 11/4). U.S. Ski and Snowboard President & CEO Bill Marolt, who is also a member of the FIS council, said in a statement, "We're disappointed that the FIS Council did not support the proposal but also respect its direction. Lindsey Vonn is a great champion in our sport, and we have always respected her interests in this new challenge" (AP, 11/3). The AP's Andrew Dampf reported that FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis said that "while there was no vote, the 17-member council was in general agreement over the decision." Lewis said, "This decision had nothing to do with an individual. It's not personal, it's not specific to Lindsey and it's not underlying her skills." Lewis also added that the USSA handled Vonn's request "eloquently" (AP, 11/3).
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