The Female Jumpers' Long and Hard Road to the Olympic Games
Even though it may seem that the fairer sex only recently got into ski jumping, nothing could be farther from the truth. A better look at the history of the sport shows us that girls have loved ski jumping for more than a century and its beginnings reach back into the middle of the 19th century. Reliable Norwegian sources reveal that women first launched themselves of the top of ski jumps almost as soon as the sport gathered steam in 1863.
The first true female star of ski jumping was the Austrian countess Paula Lamberg, who set the record at 22 meters in 1911 and achieved this enviable feat while wearing a skirt. Her colleagues in Norway also loved ski jumping, even though the much less liberal country forbade their sportswomen from competing, so they could only participate in local events by dressing as men.
In the nineteen fifties, the Norway’s desire to stop girls from competing in ski jumping went so far as to concoct a scientific theory that claimed that ski jumping causes infertility in women. However, despite the adversity and numerous obstacles, girls never lost their love for this Nordic event and through the years records were broken one after another.
We had to wait until January 1998 for the breakthrough that opened the doors for the first Women’s Ski Jumping World Cup. For the first time World Female Championship was organized in St. Moritz on an Olympic ski jump during Junior Championship. It did not take long for another controversy to arise. In 2006, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected the proposal to allow women to compete at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. One of the reasons cited was the lack of a World Cup competition.
Fifteen ladies went looking for justice in the Canadian court but lost their suit. This, however, was not fatal to the movement as IOC passed a decision in 2011 to allow women to compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. A lot of credit for this achievement goes to the Slovenians and the competition in Ljubno, which is the birthplace of women’s ski jumping on the sunny side of the Alps.
“Slovenians deserve a lot of credit for this. Ljubno was the first to organize the women’s continental cup, which was an important promotional event internationally. Ljubno also hosted the first meeting of all countries that had relatively developed women’s ski jumping. The goal we set for ourselves at the meeting was to do everything that is necessary to enable women to first compete in the World Cup and then at the Olympics,” said Secretery General SSK Ljubno BTC, Rajko Pintar.
After a long and hard road they had to travel, female jumpers finally won their hard-earned place in this discipline. If we also look at the increased public interest in the sport, we can quickly conclude that the future of women’s ski jumping has never been brighter. (rk)
Foto: Aftenposten, ladies ski jumping in Asker, Norway, in 1897