Vancouver View: VANOC Argues Ski Jumping is Out of Its Hands

(ATR) The Olympics are the "sole and exclusive property" of the IOC. That is the defense being presented by VANOC's lawyers for the second day against a bid by 15 women seeking a ski jumping competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO - MARCH 25:  Jessica Jerome flies to first place in the women's K90 Jumping competition at the US Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships on March 25, 2005 at Howelson Hill in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO - MARCH 25: Jessica Jerome flies to first place in the women's K90 Jumping competition at the US Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships on March 25, 2005 at Howelson Hill in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Jessica Jerome is one of the 15 plaintiffs seeking to add ski jumping to the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Getty Images)The Olympics are the "sole and exclusive property" of the IOC. That is the defense being presented by VANOC's lawyers for the second day against a bid by 15 women seeking a ski jumping competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

A central legal issue in the trial is whether VANOC is government-controlled. If the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ross Clark can prove it is, then the gender equality provision of the Canadian constitution would apply to VANOC.

VANOC lawyer George Macintosh countered Wednesday that the Olympics are the “sole and exclusive property” of the IOC which “controls every facet of VANOC operations.” VANOC, he said, has no power or right to determine the sports at Vancouver 2010. The host city contract and Olympic charter reign supreme and demonstrate how VANOC is beholden to the IOC, he said.

Macintosh stated VANOC informed the IOC that it could stage a women’s ski jumping event if the IOC so decided. However, the 16-member Olympic program commission, which included VANOC Director Walter Sieber, recommended against adding women’s ski jumping. The IOC executive board opted instead to debut skicross at the 2010 Games.

“Cost and logistical challenges were not factors,” Macintosh told the court. “The OPC’s concern was that women’s ski jumping was not at an Olympic level.”

The inaugural women’s world ski jumping championship was in February in Liberec, Czech Republic. Lindsey Van of Park City, Utah became the first female world champion. She is one of the plaintiffs in the case and has attended daily.

According to the defense, a sport’s inclusion in the Games requires it be practiced in 50 countries on three continents for men and in 35 countries on three continents for women. A sport also needs to have been contested twice in a world or continental championship. Until the 2009 world championship, ski jumping had only staged a junior world championship in 2006.

Macintosh said VANOC Executive Vice President of Sport Cathy Priestner Allinger, an Innsbruck 1976 speedskating silver medalist, advised the ski jumpers in early 2008 to lobby FIS, but they did not take that step.

The hearing ends on Friday.

With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.For general comments or questions,click here.Your best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings, for subscribers only.