Female ski jumpers fall short

VANCOUVER — Ten years after the triumphant whoosh of her first ski jump at Calgary’s Olympic Park, Katie Willis readied herself to walk away from the sport after Canada’s highest court brought an end to the legal battle by female jumpers hoping to compete in the Vancouver Games.

Ski jumpers including Lindsey Van

Ski jumpers including Lindsey Van

VANCOUVER — Ten years after the triumphant whoosh of her first ski jump at Calgary’s Olympic Park, Katie Willis readied herself to walk away from the sport after Canada’s highest court brought an end to the legal battle by female jumpers hoping to compete in the Vancouver Games.

The Supreme Court of Canada announced Tuesday that it will not hear an appeal from the female athletes.

“We’ve tried and we’ve put so much into this. This is the sport that I love and this is like someone telling me that I can’t do it anymore and that’s pretty heartbreaking,” Willis, 18, said.

The women contend that the Charter of Rights governs the Olympic Games and that Vancouver organizers are breaking the law by hosting only men’s ski jumping.

They were seeking leave to appeal two lower-court rulings that said the charter cannot dictate which sports are included in the Winter Games. The lower courts ruled the charter does not apply to the International Olympic Committee, which decides which sports are included in the Games.

The IOC has denied any discrimination.

The committee voted in 2006 not to include women’s ski jumping at the 2010 Games because the sport was not developed enough. The IOC rules required at least two world championships before a sport could become an Olympic event.

There are also IOC rules dictating how far in advance of an Olympics a sport can be added to the program but even with the opening ceremonies less than two months away, the women held out hope they would be competing.

The women say they have now held enough international competitions to qualify, and it wouldn’t be difficult for organizers to accommodate one additional event.

Willis said Tuesday’s ruling might well mark the end of her ski jumping career.

“I am going to school next year so I think I might be done,” she said. “It’s too bad.”