A Canadian judge, last summer, agreed: It is discrimination.
But her ruling concluded that while VANOC is subject to those antidiscrimination laws, it can't control the events – that's the domain of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC voted in 2006 against including women's ski jumping in 2010 because it deemed there weren't enough high-level women to create competition worthy of the Olympics. Because the IOC isn't bound by Canadian law, the judge ruled, Canada is powerless to change the program.
So the jumpers' appeal asks Canada to refuse to hold the men's event unless both genders can compete.
When the appeal is heard Nov. 12 and 13, it will highlight not just women's battle to wipe out the last vestige of an old-boys-club Olympic culture, but also competing demands on the Olympic ideal:
•Allowing athletes to pursue success on the most visible world stage.
•Broadening the appeal of the Games among Gen-Xers interested in more extreme sports while keeping costs manageable.
•Satisfying TV, a key sponsor.
"IT'S A TEXTBOOK CASE OF DISCRIMINATION," says Anita DeFrantz, chair of the IOC's Women and Sports Commission. "This group of athletes is being told that they're not good enough, that there aren't enough women in the top level.... That's never been an issue before."