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The Vonn predicament

So the best female skier in the world, Lindsey Vonn, has put in a request to race in the men’s event in Lake Louise. It’s caused quite a stir! Some people are labelling it a PR stunt of course and if it is that then it has worked. If she really wants to race, I think it will be very exciting and will certainly put some extra pressure on me!

But should she be allowed?!

Well the first issue is that she wants to race in Lake Louise, the week before the women race their world cup series there. The rules say that you’re not allowed to race on the hill for the week before. Vonn has suggested that she will miss out on the training runs at the women’s race to make up for it, but, I’m not sure the other girls will be happy with that.

Of course she could race a different men’s race. She could race one of the other hills where the girls aren’t going to be racing. But then picking a hill could be tough, not sure she will fancy racing Kitzbuhel or Wengen, though if she does want to push the boundaries of women’s skiing then doing Kitzbuhel is much more of a push than Lake Louise a week early!

The next issue is, if Vonn gets to race, can other girls not have a shot too? If one girl does it then potentially the others will want to as well. It wouldn’t seem unreasonable for the other top girls to ask to race too. Then how many girls get to race? Especially the race in Lake Louise, the female speed specialists will all want to enter and get some practice in! Where is the cut off?

It also has the potential to harm the women’s tour. If the ‘men’s’ events allow women to race then they become ‘open’ events and therefore deserve more prize money than the women only tour. If the best women move over to the ‘open’ races then the women’s tour will die off as it won’t be the best women in the world.

Another point is, where would Vonn start? She is ranked number 1 in ladies so would she start with the top men’s seeds? Will a top guy get pushed out of his earned top 30 starting spot to accommodate her? Or would she have to start at the back as she has no equivalent ranking points? I’m not sure she will be so keen to race if she has to start bib 80!

Of course the big talking point is how would she do? She says that she has beaten some of the Canadian guys in training, however, some people are suggesting she could be as much as 5 seconds off the pace! It probably depends a large part on where she would start, if she starts at the back I think she would be a long way out, however if she starts at the front I think she could make it into the top 30. But in truth I have no idea how close she would be!

Then what would be deemed a success? Obviously if she was to get on the podium it would be a huge success for women’s skiing and sport in general, but what if she finished lower down? If she finished 22nd, how would that be perceived by the public? Would people think less of women’s skiing? And what if she didn’t make the top 30? I think that would be very disappointing for the women’s tour, especially if she goes on to win a week later!

We have seen it in golf, with the great Annika Sörenstam (winner of 90 professional tournaments) competing in a PGA event. It created a huge buzz and a lot of publicity but, with Sörenstam missing the halfway cut, I’m not sure the publicity benefitted the women’s tour much, though I’m sure Sörenstam individually benefitted from it. (Michelle Wie has also competed on the men’s tour making the cut just once in 13 attempts.)

I think it would be fascinating to know how she got on, but I don’t think it should take place in the world cup event at Lake Louise as it seems a lot more trouble than it’s worth. She trains with men regularly, so surely has an idea how she fares against them. Of course she could forerun a men’s national championships but my suggestion would be a charity race, 5 top girls and 5 top men, starting one after the other would make it a very fair race and could draw some good publicity! In the meantime the speculation is a lot of fun!

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5 Responses

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  1. mette m says

    as i understood her request, she’d like to race out of competition…could be as a forerunner (start number issue solver)…

    I compared some times from last year (i’ve been told that’s silly, because the course setting is not the same, but still)…comparing Lindsey’s best run (winning 2nd DH race with 1.51.35) to men’s 2nd Training (won by Theaux 1.50.25) -this puts her on 12th place :)
    on the other hand, Lindsey’s best time agains Cuche’s winning time, would put her on 64th place with +4.07

  2. Kali Butler says

    I like you points and am think along the same lines about the circumstances. Especially along the line of other women wanting to get into men’s races and . I think that it is an interesting point you made about how it might affect how the women’s circuit is perceived depending on her result if she were to compete at Lake Louise with the me. I wouldn’t want the women to seem any less capable than the men or for bad opinions to come out after about the women ski racing. I do think that Vonn would be one of the best contenders to compete with the men and believe that she has the capabilities to do very well.

  3. Loo Per says

    oh please just let her ski for god’s sake! it’s just one little race, just an experiment, a one time thing, lindsey vonn is an exception, not the rule. This whole ski scene needs more action anyway

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