Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Might not be an uphill battle

FIS to discuss Vonn's request to race men

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SOELDEN, Austria -- The International Ski Federation will discuss Lindsey Vonn's wish to compete in a men's World Cup downhill race during a Nov. 3-4 meeting in Switzerland.

FIS communications manager Riikka Rakic told The Associated Press on Sunday the federation has been asked by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) to address the issue.

"Yes, we have received a request," Rakic said. "And yes, it will be on the... agenda."

U.S. team spokesman Doug Haney said the American federation was formally backing Vonn's plan by submitting the request to FIS.

Haney said USSA has not handed in a detailed plan on how it could work.

"By filing the request we just wanted to create the possibility for FIS to talk about it," he said.

Four-time overall World Cup champion Vonn wants to take part in the men's downhill at Lake Louise, Alta., on Nov. 24, six days before the women race on the same course.

FIS rules do not exclude women from competing in a men's race, but they don't allow skiers on the course a week before a race to prevent them from getting an advantage.

"There is nothing in the rules that say women are not allowed to start in a men's event," said FIS men's race director Guenter Hujara, adding some issues had to be cleared.

"How do you do the qualification, how do you do the starting position?" Hujara said. "...This is something which has to be done from the basics, that's why the council will have to deal with it."

Hujara said he was contacted directly by Vonn earlier this month. FIS, however, could only address the matter after the American federation filed a formal request.

"We'll check the options and then the council will give us an answer," Hujara said.

Vonn would have to skip the women's races in Aspen, Colo., which coincide with the men's event in Lake Louise.

Vonn has said she will back down on her plan if FIS doesn't allow her a start in the women's race at Lake Louise as well.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 29, 2012 C7

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