Alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn is a four time World Cup champion and an Olympic gold medalist. She’s been on top of women’s skiing for a while, and she now Vonn wants to compete against the men.
Reuters reports that early this month, Vonn petitioned the International Ski Federation (FIS) to let her race in the men’s season-opening downhill race November 24 in the Canadian Rockies at Lake Louise. While Vonn participating in a men’s race would be a major publicity move for the sport, there are a good deal of issues standing in the way.
The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association would need to submit a request on Vonn’s behalf before the FIS Council meets Nov. 3-4 in Oberhofen, Switzerland. Further, Vonn said she would only compete in the men’s race if she could still take part in the women’s event a week later, but current rules state that no racer is allowed to ski on a course a week prior to their own competition. The women’s race takes place on essentially the same course.
As a compromise, Lindsey Vonn has offered to forgo two training runs on the course in an attempt to even things out and still be allowed to race against men. While no formal discussions have happened yet, her idea has support.
“It would be great for the sport,” Alpine Canada president Max Gartner told Reuters on Tuesday. “That is what the sport needs, stories that are bigger than the sport itself.”
If Vonn is permitted to take part in the race, and does well, it would be a major accomplishment in inter-gender athletic competition. While it may call to mind events like Billie Jean King’s tennis victory over Bobby Riggs, Lindsey Vonn’s achievement could be even more significant. While King faced an aging and out of his prime Riggs, Vonn will be racing against the world’s best men’s skiers.