Skier Lindsey Vonn's bid to compete with men at Lake Louise rejected
Lindsey Vonn won't be racing against the men at the upcoming Lake Louise downhill competition.
Following a meeting in Switzerland, the International Ski Federation (FIS) denied the request by the American skiing great to race alongside the men on the Alberta course on Nov. 24, stating in the decision that they "confirmed that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other," and that "exceptions will not be made to the FIS Rules."
"It's very clear," FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It's called the men's World Cup and the ladies' World Cup. The men race the men's World Cup and the ladies race the ladies' World Cup. FIS and World Cup points are not transferrable from one circuit to another."
The news came as a disappointment to Alpine Canada president Max Gartner.
"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," Gartner said in a release. "It would have provided a great platform to showcase our sport and the amazing athletic performances of our athletes.
"Lindsey has achieved many milestones in ladies' ski racing. It would have been interesting to see how she stacked up against the best male racers in the world. Lake Louise is the perfect venue to have that comparison because Lindsey has as much experience on the mountain as many of the men have had. I hope Lindsey gets a chance to fulfill her dream at a later date."
The 28-year-old Vonn has spent the last few years training against the men, and at times has been faster than some of them, including Canadian Ben Thompson.
There was no vote by the 17-member council, but Lewis said there was general agreement over the decision.
"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 said.
Forerunner option may not appeal to Vonn
The FIS left open the possibility that the four-time overall World Cup champion could apply to become a forerunner — which is someone who skis the course before the beginning of a race. Those results are not counted, but allows the participant to see what their time would be versus the other competitiors.
If Vonn were to be a forerunner in the men's race, she would not be allowed to participate in the women's event at Lake Louise six days later as the FIS doesn’t allow competitors to race on the same course within a week to prevent an unfair advantage.
However, Vonn has already made it known that she won’t surrender World Cup points in the two women's World Cup downhill races at Lake Louise on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 if FIS doesn’t allow her to compete that weekend.
"If it's not possible to do the women's World Cup race in Lake Louise, then I definitely won't race with the men either," Vonn told an Austrian TV station two weeks ago. "That needs to be clarified first, that I can still race with the women."
It's no surprise that Vonn would hesitate to forfeit those points at Lake Louise — she's captured nine of 14 downhill races at the famed course since 2004.
With files from The Associated Press & CBCSports.ca