Female ski jumpers file complaint
2/5/2007 6:14:04 PM
CALGARY (CP) - Canada's female ski jumpers are demanding the federal government help them get into 2010 Winter Olympics.
The mother of Katie Willis, a 15-year-old from Calgary ranked among the top six in the world in women's ski jumping, has filed a complaint with Canada's Human Rights Commission on behalf of her daughter and her teammates.
Jan Willis is challenging the Canadian government to put pressure on the International Olympic Committee to reverse its decision denying entry of women's ski jumping into the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
She says the Department of Canadian Heritage is obligated to take up the women's cause because its money is helping build the Whistler Nordic Venue in the Callahan Valley.
''The bottom line is it is discrimination,'' Jan Willis said Monday. ''They are contributing to these facilities and women are not allowed to compete on them. I think that goes against the grain of most people's values in Canada.''
Ski Jump Canada is backing the complaint, said chairman Brent Morrice.
''I have totally supported the girls and continue to support them in their quest for equality,'' he said. ''There are a lot of irons in the fire and the girls are taking a big step here by filing this complaint.
''There are a lot of people who want them to go away, but I don't believe they are going to go away.''
Ski jumping and nordic combined are the last male-only events at the Winter Games. Nordic combined incorporates ski jumping and cross-country skiing.
The IOC wants gender equality in the Games, but its executive committee denied entry of women's ski jumping into the Games, saying the sport did not have enough world-wide participation and depth of talent to be part of the Olympic program.
The IOC instead voted in November to allow skiercross into the Games. The Vancouver organizing committee (VANOC) has yet to approve its inclusion in the 2010 Games, which open three years from Monday.
The committee is not making contingency plans for the inclusion of women's ski jumping, according to its vice-president of sport.
''With respect, we're not going to speculate on a `what if' scenario for women's ski jumping,'' Tim Gayda said in a statement. ''The IOC has made their decision on women's ski jumping and we are planning our sport program accordingly.''
Nina Reid, a Calgary lawyer who has a 13-year-old daughter in the sport, is serving as counsel to Willis.
''I think there still is time to approach the IOC and try to have the decision revisited,'' Reid said. ''The main purpose of filing it is to get the federal government's attention.