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...