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Archive for April, 2009

Let Them Jump!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

While FasterSkier has not generally covered ski jumping in the past, we have been providing updates on the ongoing controversy involving Women’s Ski Jumping and the 2010 Olympic Games.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not approve Women’s Ski Jumping for the Games, and in an effort to gain inclusion, a group of elite female ski jumpers sued in Canadian court on the premise that the IOC was violating the Canadian Charter granting equal rights.

The IOC has argued they do not fall under the auspices of Canadian law as they are an international organization based in Switzerland.  I am not a lawyer or a legal expert in any way, and I do know that there is precedent for this type of argument, but the idea that any international organization could ignore what amounts to human rights protections is absurd, and exceedingly dangerous.  Even the US military is subject to the laws of the nation in which they are deployed.

The trial wrapped up last Friday, and now both sides are waiting for the ruling.  A recap of the legal proceedings can be found here. You can get the women’s perspective at www.wsjusa.com. The site features a number of videos, including a trailer for the documentary, “Fighting Gravity.”

But legal issues aside, it is deplorable that the IOC, an organization that claims to promote the values of fair play and ethical principle would chose to exclude female ski jumpers from the Olympics without good reason.

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Quod Erat Demonstrandum

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

A short preamble – this blog can be thought of as an editorial column for FasterSkier.  I will post observations and opinions, as well as information that may not warrant, or be ready for, a full article on the main site.  Feel free to make your opinions known in the comment section, or email me at topher@fasterskier.com

Zach Caldwell’s recent article titled “The US Doper Problem” generated some impassioned responses.  Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, the comments on the piece served to prove Zach’s assertion that the US has an unhealthy infatuation with doping, and completely ignored his presentation of a critical component to international success – the ability to replicate top performances consistently.  We can argue endlessly about who is doping, who is clean, the efficacy of testing, etc.  But none of that will get us closer to more medals.

We need to admit that doping is an issue.  We need to support testing, and programs to reduce that amount of cheating.  And then we need to go out and work as if the field is clean.  There is no question that doping has a major impact on the sport – and on US athletes.  If Veerpalu is indeed a cheater, he stole a medal from Kris Freeman.  The difference for Kris personally, and for US skiing,  between 4th and 3rd is enormous.  In sprinting, one cheater can have an exponentially large impact on the results.  In Whistler Kikkan Randall just missed advancing out of her quarterfinal in the classic sprint.  One of the two women ahead of her?  Natalia Matveeva (RUS), who tested positive for EPO at those World Cups.  If Matveeva is disqualified, Kikkan will move up a place, but who knows what would have happened had she qualified for the next round.

But none of this gets us anywhere.  Analyzing and complaining does not change the reality.  The US Ski Team appears to recognize this.  They put up with all the out-of-competition testing and I have never heard a USST athlete or coach make excuses based on doping.  All they can do is prepare as best as possible, and hope that is enough to beat clean and dirty athletes alike.

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