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Winter Olympics: Women banned from ski jumping, but women’s participation way up

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Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

(Read caption) Women have been banned from ski jumping but the 2014 Olympics will feature a women's event. Elsewhere in the 2010 Olympics, women's participation has been on the rise.

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If you haven't noticed, Olympic ski jumping is a men-only event. Women were banned from it by the International Olympic Committee.

Turned down by the IOC for their lack of depth, women ski jumpers took their case to Canada’s courts, where a judge agreed last summer that the IOC’s refusal to hold women’s events in the discipline constituted discrimination. But the Vancouver organizing committee (VANOC) was powerless to rectify the situation, concluded the court – a decision upheld by an appeals court in November.

But apart from ski jumping, female participation in the Games has improved dramatically over the past three decades.

The dynamic head of the IOC's "Women and Sport" commission, Anita DeFrantz, has overseen impressive progress – not least of all because in 1991 a new rule was introduced that every new event must include women as well as men.

Consider:

The IOC has hinted that it’s gotten the message loud and clear from women’s ski jumpers, and plans to include them for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

That will be good news for young Americans such as Sarah Hendrikson, who this fall finished second at US Nationals – an event that was held on a plastic surface in Lake Placid, N.Y., so as not to interfere with the winter competition circuit in Europe.

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And it will be impressive for many Olympic spectators who have never seen bird-like girls defy Earth’s gravity.

---- Follow Christa as she tweets throughout the Games. You can also follow her on Facebook.


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