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  • Writer's pictureMichael Plugge

Science speaks: ski flying not more dangerous for women than for men

Updated: May 18, 2023

For too long, those who oppose women's ski jumping and ski flying have used outdated beliefs and unscientific arguments to justify their position. But now, a groundbreaking study has shattered all these myths once and for all.

Maren Lundby on her way on the biggest hill in the world, Vikersund (Photo: NTB}
Maren Lundby on her way on the biggest hill in the world, Vikersund (Photo: NTB}

Three researchers from the NTNU, Ola Elfmark, Øyvind Sandbakk and Gertjan Ettema, have published a study using data from the weekend in Vikersund in March, debating the claims from the opponents of women's ski jumping and flying. The conclusion of the researchers is clear.

"It is high time to put aside old nonsense from the past and build the ski policy of the future on logical conclusions and science"

"It is high time to put aside old nonsense from the past and build the ski policy of the future on logical conclusions and science," the researchers write, referring to the old, baseless claims that have been made by rule makers and others in and outside of FIS.

"Nothing indicated here that ski flying is more dangerous for women than men, rather the opposite"

In their study, the researchers analyzed all 90 jumps made by the women during the event in Vikersund. The results were clear: not a single female athlete fell or experienced even a close call, in stark contrast to the men's jumps, where several ended in falls or near-crashes. The researchers concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that ski flying is more dangerous for women than for men, and that the opposite may in fact be true. "Nothing indicated here that ski flying is more dangerous for women than men, rather the opposite," the researchers wrote.

The fifteen women who jumped Vikersund did not jump any worse than the men (Photo: NTB)
The fifteen women who jumped Vikersund did not jump any worse than the men (Photo: NTB)

Other claims made by those who oppose women's ski flying, such as a higher speed and overall lower level, have also been researched. Both claims also turned out to be invalid. The highest speed measured for a woman, was 103.7km/h, which was exactly the same that Marius Lindvik reached a year earlier on the same hill. No one ever considered it too be too dangerous for a man.

"Although none of the women had tried ski flying before, the differences between genders are small"

"Although none of the women had tried ski flying before, the differences between genders are small, both in speed and jump length," the team concluded. In total, seven jumps were below a hundred meter on the giant hill. Six times it turned out to be a man to jump that short, despite their far greater experience on the big hills. In theory, which is backed by other studies in the past, the rule is that the larger the hill is, the smaller the difference in genders will be, as long as women get the same experience.

"If the girls also get to ski fly, then it won't be anything special for the boys"

And that is exactly where the problem lies, the women are not getting a fair chance. Instead of FIS pushing organizers to host competitions on large hills, so the women get more experience in that, they settle for a calendar that is dominated by small hills, some even smaller than those in the Alpen Cup. And when people like Toni Innauer use phrases like "if the girls get to ski fly, then it won't be anything special for the boys", you got to wonder, does FIS actually want to develop women's ski jumping or does it deliberately want to hold back so that the women will not get better?

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