FIS to discuss Lindsey Vonn's wish to race against men
The International Ski Federation will discuss Lindsey Vonn's wish to compete in a men's World Cup downhill race during a Nov. 3-4 meeting in Switzerland.
FIS communications manager Riikka Rakic told The Associated Press on Sunday that the federation has been asked by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) to address the issue.
"Yes, we have received a request," Rakic said. "And yes, it will be on the [FIS rule-making] Council's agenda."
U.S. team spokesman Doug Haney said the American federation was formally backing Vonn's plan by submitting the request to FIS.
Haney said USSA has not handed in a detailed plan on how it could work.
"By filing the request we just wanted to create the possibility for FIS to talk about it," Haney said.
Four-time overall World Cup champion Vonn wants to take part in the men's downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta on Nov. 24, six days before the women race on the same course.
FIS rules do not exclude women from competing in a men's race, but they don't allow skiers on the course a week before a race to prevent them from getting an advantage.
"There is nothing in the rules that say women are not allowed to start in a men's event," said FIS men's race director Guenter Hujara, adding that some issues had to be cleared.
"How do you do the qualification, how do you do the starting position?" Hujara said. "All these questions have to be answered. This is something which has to be done from the basics, that's why the Council will have to deal with it."
Hujara said he was contacted directly by Vonn earlier this month. FIS, however, could only address the matter after the American federation filed a formal request.
"We'll check the options and then the Council will give us an answer," Hujara said.
Vonn would have to skip the women's races in Aspen, Colorado, which coincide with the men's event in Lake Louise.
Vonn has said she will back down on her plan if FIS doesn't allow her a start in the women's race at Lake Louise as well.
According to women's race director Atle Skaardal, FIS rules leave no room to make an exception for the American.
"There is a problem for Lindsey because we have clear rules about training on the World Cup courses prior to an event," Skaardal said. "In case she runs the men's race, she will not be allowed to do the women's race the week after."