Monday, February 17, 2014

Women in the Olympics: Separate and Unequal...and Ultrarunning

This is worse than I thought.  It's morally and physically egregious, and is solely a sad and disgusting legacy of our male-dominated society.  Via Slate, here:

On Tuesday [11 Feb 2014], Germany's Carina Vogt became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in ski jumping. Ninety years after men jumped at the inaugural Winter Games in Chamonix—and five years after female jumpers unsuccessfully sued the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the right to join them—women were finally allowed to jump from the same hill that men do. Except that the men are also allowed to jump from a bigger hill. And then teams of four men can all jump off the big hill together. Women still aren’t allowed to do that stuff.

Now that ski jumping has gone (partially) co-ed, only one winter Olympic sport still completely bars women from competition. (That’s the Nordic Combined, which incorporates both a ski jump and a 10 kilometer cross-country race.) But across Sochi,women are still skiing shorter distances, launching from more diminutive hills, and competing on teams of smaller sizes. In cross-country skiing, men can race up to 50 km, but the female courses top out at 30 km. The women’s long-track speedskating event is 5,000 meters, half that of the men’s race. Distances in the women’s biathlon are similarly stunted. Though female bobsledders made their Olympic debut in 2002, they’re still limited to a two-person contest, while male bobsledders compete in a four-man race as well. And while women have been luging in the Olympics since 1964, there’s still no doubles event to match the men’s.
Let me pull out one quote above--and, by the way, PLEASE go and read the whole Slate article:

In cross-country skiing, men can race up to 50 km, but the female courses top out at 30 km.

In Ultrarunning, the "women's barrier" was shattered long ago.  I don't know of any sentient Ultrarunner who seriously believes that women are incapable of running the kinds of distances we run.  So why in the Olympics do we still treat women as second class citizens?

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