Anger over the women’s tour: “It’s scandalous”

Dhe premiere of ski jumping announced for next winter has been almost canceled as luck would have it. A Four Hills Tournament for women? Such a thing is unlikely to happen before the 2024/25 season at the earliest, Austrian Ski President Roswitha Stadlober told a press conference about the so-called New Year’s Tournament in Villach and Ljubno. What initially looked like a side note sparked annoyance and irritation among the athletes. The flimsy explanation that there are “many factors to consider that do not allow for earlier introduction” was hardly reassuring.

The introduction of the new New Year’s tournament at the start of the year was a further step for Olympic silver medalist Katharina Althaus and her colleagues. But it’s not the circuit we’ve been aiming for for years, where the men are the center of attention this winter for the 71st time. And jumping on normal springboards in Villach and Ljubno in Slovenia rather than the big arenas in Oberstdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Innsbruck and Bischofshofen also feels more like a parallel program than a real integration.

Battle for “the equality of the hills”

The jumpers, whose fight for “equality of levels” around the tournament each year is of particular interest, are served accordingly. German jumper Luisa Görlich openly expressed her displeasure. “The competitions in Titisee and Lillehammer have shown locally and on television screens that the time has come for a Women’s Four Hills Tournament. In this context, it is outrageous in the age of gender justice to have postponed the decision to go on tour again!” Görlich wrote in his column on “sport.de”.

Olympic champion Maren Lundby clapped back via Twitter and agreed with the clear words “totally”: “It’s time to bring the women to the four hills tournament.” There has actually been a consensus in the world of ski jumping for years. Even before the Corona pandemic, ski club presidents met with national ski associations and rights holders to work on solutions. Then came two winters without spectators and the project faded into the background.

Now this week 25,000 fans and normality return to Oberstdorf, where the tour traditionally begins. Only women will not be jumping in the Allgäu on Wednesday and Thursday (4:30 p.m. on ZDF and Eurosport) – and that will probably be the case at least next winter, according to the words of the president of ÖSV Stadlober. How come a project that is actually wanted by all sides has been stalled for years?

In April, everything was actually clear. The associations said: The women’s tour is coming, the first should take place in 2023/24. In Germany, the stations in Oberstdorf and Garmisch were to be reversed, in Austria they wanted to use the year and a half “to clarify all open questions and the respective framework conditions with all stakeholders”. It has now erupted.

The support of the jumpers is certainly not lacking. Two years ago, national men’s coach Stefan Horngacher said during an introduction: “No comment from my side”. But the athletes around Karl Geiger have been campaigning for years for a strengthening and harmonization of the Women’s World Cup. However, Geiger does not suspect that the new postponement is due to the fact that the Austrian ski association “refuses”.

On Tuesday, Horngacher again campaigned for a quick start to the new event. “You can support it, we did it. It is also in preparation, the Tournament of the four springboards of the girls. We would be delighted,” said the 53-year-old. But there is not much more that can be done than to sort things out. “Associations and organizers have to work together,” said Horngacher.

“I’m so sorry for the girls. It’s a shame, but I don’t know the exact reasons. And that’s why I don’t want to make a clear statement now and pillory anyone,” Geiger said. , who has previously won mixed medals at the world championships alongside Althaus.

In other parts of the calendar, it works better with the participation of women. Fis race director Sandro Pertile reported before the start of the season on mats in Wisla how the world association managed to let Poland host women’s World Cup competitions for the first time. “Our deal with the Poles was this: you save money for energy, so you invest the money in women. That’s a great solution,” Pertile of “Heilbronner Voice” said. For a trick of the ski jumpers, such a solution does not seem in sight.

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