The International Ski Federation (FIS) has come under fire after five female ski jumpers were disqualified from the first mixed team event at the Beijing Olympics for wearing jumpsuits that are ‘too baggy’ in a chaotic final.
The suits were inspected during the competition and the FIS said five competitors were disqualified because their suits were too big and offered an aerodynamic advantage.
German silver medalist Katharina Althaus and Japanese star Sara Takanashi were among the five women whose suits violated rules in the Olympic debut of an event that featured two women and two men on each team.
‘We were looking forward to the second competition at the Olympics. FIS destroyed that with this action – they destroyed women’s ski jumping,’ Germany’s Katharina Althaus, who was one of those disqualified, told reporters.
Japanese star Sara Takanashi was among the five women cancelled for suits that were too baggy
German silver medalist Katharina Althaus was also caught in the crackdown
There are restrictions on baggy ski jump suits because they make the wearer more aerodynamic
Althaus told reporters that the FIS ‘destroyed’ the Olympics with the disqualifications
ara Takanashi of Japan (L) with a teammember reacts after being disqualified during the Mixed Team Ski Jumping Normal Hill first round at the Zhangjiakou National Ski Jumping Centre at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games on Monday
German silver medalist Katharina Althaus (pictured on Saturday) was among the five women disqualified for her suit
‘Our names are now (out) there and we just pulled the c**p card. That is how you destroy nations, development and the entire sport.’
Horst Huttel, Germany’s head of Nordic events, said the situation was ‘outrageous’.
‘This is a parody, but I am not laughing… It is outrageous that this happens with the four biggest ski-jump nations,’ he added.
Norwegian ski jumping chief of sports Clas Brede Braathen said the experience was ‘very painful’ for the athletes and that the issue should have been ironed out before the Olympics.
‘The sport of ski jumping has experienced one of its darker days…,’ he told reporters.
‘I’m lost for words, really. I’m in pain on behalf of our sport.’
With lightning-fast take-off runs and soaring leaps, wind resistance plays a huge part in ski jumping, and skis and suits are regularly checked by officials to ensure that competitors have not done anything to gain an unfair advantage.
FIS says the suits that violated rules were produced exclusively for the Olympics and and were not tested in advance, an opportunity that just a few nations took advantage of before arriving in Beijing.
Silje Opseth, of Norway, reacts during the ski jumping mixed team final at the 2022 Winter Olympics
Austria’s Daniela Iraschko Stolz prepares to compete in the Ski Jumping Women’s Normal Hill Individual Trial Round for Competition on Saturday. She was among five women skiers disqualified from the mixed competition on Monday
Norway’s Anna Odine Stroem reacts during the ski jumping mixed team final at the 2022 Winter Olympics, on Monday. She was among five athletes who were penalised
Slovenia took the gold medal, with athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee picking up the silver and Canada taking a shock bronze medal, but the focus quickly shifted from their achievement to how the rules were interpreted.
‘I hope nobody ever experiences that again, it’s completely crazy,’ Norwegian jumper Robert Johansson, who had been sitting on the bar preparing to jump when he found out about the disqualifications, told Reuters.
His team mates Silje Opseth and Anna Odine Stroem were both penalised, along with Germany’s Althaus, Japan’s Sara Takanashi and Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria.
A distraught Takanashi quickly left the arena, and Opseth was also in tears as she told reporters how her suit was the same one that she had worn in Saturday’s competition without any problem from the judges.
‘I think they checked it in a new way today compared to what they had done previously, I think it’s very strange that they would suddenly change how they do it in the middle of a tournament,’ Opseth said before breaking down in tears again.
‘I don’t know what to say. I’m really just shaken. I’m sorry that I was disqualified today,’ she said.
The judges at the competition declined to comment when asked to do so by Norwegian journalists.