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Female skiing sensation and model, Lindsey Vonn, has written to the FIS requesting permission to compete in the men's downhill in Lake Louise next month. Could this be another Red Bull first?
Lindsey Vonn has dominated Women's downhill skiing for years, both on the mountain and in the press. At 27 she already has 33 World Cup victories to her name, 26 of which are in downhill skiing. If being one of the greatest women skiers on the planet wasn't enough, Vonn's looks have also led her to being a poster girl for both the sports and the US Winter Olympic team.
Photo: © U.S. Ski Team
Vonn certainly has the skiing ability and public appeal to take on the boys at their own game, and as she already trains with them, you can bet she's pretty confident in beating them too. But is this all down to Vonn, or does having an ambitious sponsor like Red Bull help.
When it comes to action sports and high adrenaline, Red Bull are the masters of PR. This week the Red Bull Stratos took place — where Austrian sky diver jumped out of a balloon at 120,000ft breaking both the sound barrier and the record for the world's most ridiculous, sorry, highest sky dive. So, is it any surprise they are supporting another one of their prized assets taking on a world first?
The decision to take on the Men's Downhill apparently comes from Lindsey Vonn's team, as opposed to the US ski team, which this statement from the US team seems to back up: "We clearly have great respect for Lindsey, her accomplishments in the sport and her desire to seek this new challenge. But we have not had any formal discussion yet between Lindsey and FIS. As with any issue or opportunity, decisions we make are management decisions but include all appropriate parties."
So, could and should Vonn be allowed to take on the men? There is no reason why she shouldn't, unless the likes of Bode Miller are worried that she could pip them to the podium positions. British women's skier Chemmy Alcott seems to think not, according to a post on Facebook this week:
"Most people will expect me to be averse to Lindsey Vonn's request to ski against the boys. They will probably expect me to be jealous, as a peer who will never have the opportunity she is seeking.
Or they might think that I will deem it unfair that Lindsey will, if she continues to compete on the women's World Cup tour, "break" FIS rules by skiing on a piste the week before an event. This would give her a big advantage in the women's race because the gate setting in Lake Louise next month is the same.
However, this is far from true. I am sympathetic to Lindsey's plight. She is not just any female requesting the opportunity to compete against men in her sport - she is the best, and by far. Numerous times she has destroyed the competition in speed events by seconds (a lifetime in our sport)."
I say let her compete against the boys to see how they cope with her taking the limelight on and off the slopes...
Many of us in days gone by wished for the life of a professional skier or snowboarder. Waking up everyday to go and hike the latest line with some friends and a camera man, honing our latest tricks in the park in the afternoon and then enjoying a few aprés ski beers ready to do it all again the following day.
Ok, so the closest most of us have ever been to that is working in a chalet or bar and hitting the mountain at every opportunity, the only beers we enjoyed were on those nights our bodies weren't crying for bed by 9pm. I may be understating the training required, traveling needed and constant drive to be the best that the pro-riders endure. Unfortunately there aren't too many of us that can match Travis Rice or Candide Thovex.
The one thing that we do all forget is what a professional snowboarder or skier do once they hang up their boots. There are few whose efforts to support their dreams turn into their next career. So Graham Bell and Ed Leigh may keep us entertained whilst watching BBC snowsports but there are not many who have been brave enough to start a business based on our own interests and succeeded. Queue Gilly Seagrave.
For those who know Gilly she is a perfectionist. She has been around the British scene for some time and still gets cracking pictures for her sponsors, coaches budding young riders with Our Camp and her boutique clothes brand EKA is taking off.
EKA is Gilly's new passion and pride and started off as a way of financing snowboarding by making beanies for her friends. Thanks to her partner Nils, who convinced her she could do much more than sell a few hats in Morzine, EKAwear was born and the brand already has a fantastic selection of boutique clothing. The items look just at home in the streets of Morzine or Courchevel as they do on Oxford Street or the Kings Road.
The collections produced by EKA are fantastic accessories that not only look stunning but are ecologically friendly and ethically produced. With more and more brands taking this approach the winter sports scene is trying to preserve the mountains in their own way. Patagonia work tirelessly on their carbon footprint in both production and distribution, and brands like Volcom and Quicksilver offer ranges using recycled or sustainable materials.
When was the last time you watched the Winter X-games or Olympics and the podium was full of over 35s? Next time you hit the slopes and are watching kids inverted in the park, dropping huge cliffs or race training just wonder to yourself what will they do when it's all over. Like with most sports
Written by Stephen Adam
This year one of the most successful athletes in the world of winter sports has the chance to be nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. She may not be an Olympian and she competes in a sport that may not be as fashionable on the high street and football, Formula 1 or rugby but Jenny Jones deserves a nomination. Though the official nominations are not until November there is already a growing Facebook campaign for possibly the country's most successful snowboarder to gain a nomination.
Jenny Jones has had an incredible season for winter 2010. She has won both gold medals for the women's slopestyle in Winter X-Games held in Aspen and the first ever European X-Games in Tignes. This added to last year's gold in Aspen takes her to an unprecedented three X-Games gold medals in the sports premier competition.
Jenny has not only been successful over the past two seasons in the Winter X-Games but has plenty more gold medals to add to her collection including triumphs over the past seasons at the Burton US Open in Apsen, Burton European Open in Laax, the Roxy Chicken Jam, the Nissan Nippon Open and of course The Brits also held in Laax. Jenny Jones has also had several top 6 results in the TTR World Snowboard Tour since 2006.
Not only is Jenny a world class snowboarder she is great person too. If you are ever out in Morzine there is every chance you will bump into her on the slopes or at the Cavern with her friends and the usual resort locals. If the BBC Sports Personality of the Year was awarded on personality alone Jenny arguably has more charisma, charm and is more personable than Wayne Rooney, Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Pietersen put together.
If we can get the British snow sports fans behind Jenny Jones then we may get a more charismatic winner and someone we can relate to more than previous years gone by. Jenny Jones loves snowboarding, is highly influential in British snowboarding scene and is one of the top athletes in the world at her profession. If ever a snow sports enthusiast deserves to be commended for their achievements then Jenny Jones truly does.
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