Oberhofen, Switzerland – At its Autumn Meeting in Oberhofen on Saturday the International Ski Federation (FIS) considered, and then rejected, U.S. alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn’s request to race the FIS Alpine World Cup men’s downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada later this month.
“The Council respected Lindsey Vonn’s proposal to participate in men’s World Cup races and confirmed that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other and exceptions will not be made to the FIS Rules,” the organization said in a statement released on Saturday following the meeting. “In terms of her request to participate in the men’s downhill in Lake Louise, she is welcome to submit a request to the Organizing Committee and jury to be a forerunner.”
Vonn, a highly decorated skier from Vail, Colo. who has dominated the women’s World Cup circuit for the past several seasons, submitted her request last month to race with the men in Lake Louise. Both the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Lake Louise race organizers including Alpine Canada supported Vonn’s effort.
“Lindsey Vonn is a great champion in our sport and we have always respected her interests in this new challenge,” acknowledged Bill Marolt, USSA President and CEO. “It’s important for us to support athletes like Lindsey. She has achieved greatness from her tenacity in seeking new challenges. We’re disappointed that the FIS Council did not support the proposal but also respect its direction. Now we have to keep a strong focus on the World Championships this season and the 2014 Olympics.”
“I’m disappointed to hear that Lindsey will not be racing against the men in Lake Louise,” said Alpine Canada president Max Gartner. “I saw it as a great opportunity to raise the profile of the sport by attracting interest from people who do not normally follow ski racing, particularly in North America. It would have provided a great platform to showcase our sport and the amazing athletic performances of our athletes.
“I hope Lindsey gets a chance to fulfill her dream at a later date.”
The Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup features the first downhill and super G races of the 2012-13 Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup season. The men compete from Nov. 24 to 25, while the women – including Vonn – are scheduled to race from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.