Olympic Fury: 'They Destroyed Women's Ski Jumping'

5 female ski jumpers disqualified ahead of Tuesday's mixed finals
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2022 2:42 PM CST
Olympic Fury: 'They Destroyed Women's Ski Jumping'
Katharina Althaus, of Germany, soars through the air during the women's normal hill individual first round at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

There's plenty of hand-wringing going on in the sport of ski jumping after five female competitors were disqualified prior to the Olympic mixed team ski jump final on Tuesday for apparent suit violations. The Mainichi explains the rationale behind the checks: to verify the suit doesn't give the ski jumper extra lift or any other boost by way of extra fabric or webbed portions, and also to prevent athletes from jumping an unsafe distance. More:

  • Among those disqualified was Germany's Katharina Althaus, who took silver in the individual event on Saturday and at the 2018 Games. Yahoo Sports has this furious quote from her: "The [International Ski Federation] destroyed everything with this operation. I think they have destroyed women's ski jumping. I have been checked so many times in 11 years of ski jumping, and I have never been disqualified once. I know my suit was compliant."

  • NPR reports those disqualified hailed from four of the world's best ski-jumping teams, and also include Sara Takanashi of Japan, Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria, and Anna Odine Stroem and Silje Opseth of Norway.
  • The suits were all deemed to be too large, and Takanashi's coach speculated that perhaps "the extreme dry weather ... affected her body's moisture content"; he pointed out that she wore the same suit in competition on Saturday. Others similarly said they had previously worn the same suit in other Olympic events.
  • As for how large is too large, the Mainichi notes even a centimeter of extra fabric can cause a disqualification. It gives a short history of the evolution of the suit rules, which were minimal as far back as the 1998 Olympics and got more stringent over the years. That said, they've changed a lot—nearly annually.
  • In comments to Eurosport UK, ski jumping official Agnieszka Baczkowska held her ground: "It was my hardest day in 10 years. But I have to make sure that everyone has the same opportunities, because it's about justice."
  • Beijing is seeing the Olympic debut of the mixed team competition, and the Independent notes the disqualification of five women isn't doing much to promote gender equality. The path to get there in the sport hasn't been easy. Women's individual ski jumping wasn't introduced at the Games until 2014. A number of reports are flagging this 2005 comment from former International Ski Federation chief Gian Franco Kaspar to point out how tough the road has been. "Don’t forget it’s like jumping down ... on the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view."
  • As for the final standings, Slovenia won gold, Russia took silver, and Canada secured bronze.
(More 2022 Olympics stories.)

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