IOC approves skicross; rejects women's ski jumping

Tuesday, November 28th 2006, 2:10 pm
By: News On 6

KUWAIT CITY (AP) _ The rough-and-tumble freestyle event of skicross is in for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Women's ski jumping will have to wait to be considered for 2014.

The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday approved skicross _ similar to snowboard cross _ for the Vancouver Games, but rejected women's jumping and five other events.

The IOC executive board also overhauled the process for selecting sports for future Summer Games, and partially lifted its freeze on payments to the international amateur boxing association to encourage reforms in judging and scoring.

Skicross involves groups of skiers racing each other to the bottom of a course with jumps, rollers, banks and other manmade and natural terrain features. The competition is part of the International Ski Federation's World Cup freestyle circuit, which also includes the Olympic events of aerials and moguls.

The IOC said skicross has a ``strong appeal for the young generation.''

Snowboard cross debuted at the Winter Games in Turin 10 months ago and drew big crowds and good ratings.

The Vancouver skicross events will feature 32 men and 16 women competing in the same format as the snowboard version. The two gold medals will bring the number of medal events in Vancouver to 86.

Turned down by the IOC were women's ski jumping, a team event in Alpine skiing, mixed relay in biathlon, team competitions in bobsled and skeleton, a team luge competition and mixed doubles in curling.

Ski jumping, and Nordic combined, are the only competitions in the Winter Olympics in which women don't participate. While the IOC is eager to have gender equity in all sports, officials said women's jumping hasn't yet been fully established, noting that the first world championships in the event aren't scheduled until 2009.

``It's still not ready,'' IOC vice president Gunilla Lindberg said. ``In our analysis, there are not enough athletes and not enough countries. They have to work with the international ski federation and Nordic combined to be ready for 2014.''

However, the IOC stressed it would closely monitor the progress of women's ski jumping ``with a view of its inclusion in future Olympic Games.''

``Yes, we would like to have women's ski jumping one day, but we still have to evaluate it along with other sports,'' Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli said.

The Kuwait meeting was the last chance for new events to secure a spot on the Vancouver sports program. The next opportunity will be for the 2014 Olympics, with a final decision on events for those games in 2010.

In the meantime, the IOC ruled out consideration of ski orienteering, ski mountaineering and winter triathlon for 2014.

In other action, the board released $300,000 out of $1.1 million in frozen funds to the International Amateur Boxing Association, with the money to be used by national federations to buy video equipment for scoring.

The IOC froze Olympic revenues to the AIBA after the 2004 Athens Games, citing concerns over scoring and the selection of judges. The IOC also said Tuesday it was freeing $150,000 in annual development funds to the boxing body.

A breakthrough came last month when longtime AIBA president Anwar Chowdhry of Pakistan was defeated in a re-election bid by Taiwan's Ching-Kuo Wu at the association's congress in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Critics had accused the 84-year-old Chowdhry, who led the federation for 20 years, of corruption and mismanagement.

``We believe it's a new era for boxing,'' Felli said.

The IOC board also approved major changes in the process for setting the Summer Games sports program. The move followed widespread criticism of the arduous procedures at the IOC session in Singapore in 2005, where members voted on each of the 28 sports. Baseball and softball were cut for the 2012 Olympics but members failed to vote in any replacements, leaving only 26 sports for the London Games.

Under the new system, the executive board will propose a slate of sports to be voted on as a bloc by the general assembly. If the proposal fails to win a majority, the members then will vote sport by sport.

The new process will debut at the 2009 session in Copenhagen, Denmark, with 26 sports put forward for the 2016 Games. With the IOC keeping to a maximum of 28 summer sports, two slots will be open for possible additions.

A simple majority vote will be needed to approve new sports. Previously, two-thirds approval was required.

The IOC said it would maintain its cap of 10,500 athletes for summer games but allow ``flexibility'' in the number of events, disciplines and teams.