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Women's Ski Jumping flies onto Olympic radar

1 June 2006

Women’s ski jumping appears likely to make its Olympic debut at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, after the International Ski Federation (FIS) voted in favour of adding the event for the 2009 World Championships.

There was a queue of young Australian women wanting to be the first to compete in skeleton in Torino and the AOC will not be surprised if more daredevils accept the challenge of being the first to soar off the ski jump in Vancouver.

The decision at the recent FIS Congress in Portugal is the first crucial step for acceptance to the Olympic Games. The unanimous 118-1 vote keeps alive the Olympic dream for elite women jumpers, some of whom jump further than the men.

Olympic Winter Institute of Australia Chief Executive, Geoff Lipshut was at the Congress and is confident the event will be pushed through.

“I believe it will be added to the program for Vancouver, along with ski cross and an alpine team event,” Lipshut said.

Whether or not an Australian woman would be flying off the ski jump near the Whistler resort was something that he had not really considered – yet couldn’t rule out.

“Having no access to facilities in Australia is the major issue and we don’t know enough about ski jumping to consider establishing a program,” he said.

“If someone starts doing it (jumping) themselves and gets results, then I’m sure we would support them like we did with the luge athletes for Torino.”

No Australian man has competed in ski jumping at the Olympics, although in 1960, Hal Nerdal took part in the 60m jump as part of the Nordic combined event.

Ski jumping is the last male-only sport in the Winter Games.

The IOC could make a decision at its 2007 meetings in Guatemala. A timeline for the decision on ski cross and the alpine team event is unknown.

Ski cross is the same as the popular snowboard cross that debuted in Torino. Skiers race head-to-head down a course with banks, jumps and other obstacles. The format for the alpine team event is expected to be a combination of slalom and downhill.

Australia’s largest ever team of 40 athletes competed in 10 of 15 disciplines in Torino. Dale Begg-Smith’s moguls gold and Alisa Camplin’s aerials bronze placed Australia 17th on the medal tally.

AOC

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