American skier Lindsey Vonn has proven to be the queen of the Lake Louise downhill race. Now she wants a crack at the men's title.
Vonn has written the International Ski Federation (FIS) asking if she can enter the men's downhill race Nov. 24 at the Alberta resort. It would be the first men's downhill race of the World Cup season. The women's downhill season opens the following weekend at Lake Louise.
The matter was discussed this week during FIS meetings in Zurich. A decision is expected in November.
"It's necessary to go through the rules to see if there is a way to do this and also a reason to do it,'' Atle Skaardal, the women's World Cup race director, told Reuters.
"It's complicated because no racer is supposed to ski on a race course a week prior to his or her own competition. If Lindsey Vonn could train and compete with the men in November, she would have a huge advantage on her rivals the following week during the women's races on the same course.''
There seems a simple solution to this problem. If Vonn is allowed to race against the men she would then have to agree to sit out the women's downhill.
The 27-year-old Vonn, who won the downhill gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, has dominated women's skiing. She is a four-time overall World Cup champion. Of her 33 World Cup victories 26 have come in downhill races.
During her career she has won 10 times at Lake Louise.
Men's downhill courses are usually longer than women and may have more jumps. Men traditionally are stronger than women, giving them an advantage in turning.
Should Vonn be allowed to race against the men it would it create huge worldwide interest in the Lake Louise race.
The people who govern international ski racing are often traditionalists and may balk at the idea of a women intruding on the men's territory. There may also may be concerns about the fallout should Vonn be injured and FIS be accused of participating in a stunt to increase coverage of ski racing in North America.
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