Chika Yoshida: "The ladies earned this interest and they deserve it"
Not only the Ski Jumping competition calendars for the upcoming summer and winter season were confirmed at the FIS Calendar Conference in Portoroz (SLO), some important steps for the future of ladies' Ski Jumping were also taken there. There will be ladies' team competitions in the World Cup for the first time next winter and the ladies' get a bit closer to their goal of having more World Cup events on the large hill.
We spoke to Chika Yoshida, FIS Race Director for ladies Ski Jumping, about these decisions.
FIS Ski Jumping: Ms. Yoshida, what is your opinion about the meeting of the FIS Ski Jumping Committee last weekend in Portoroz (SLO)?
Chika Yoshida: First of all I have to say that I was impressed by the qualify of the discussions in Portoroz regarding the innovations. For example, there were some reasonable objections concerning the additional large hill competition in Lillehammer. It's not unproblematic to reduce the field of competitors to 30 already in the third competition of the season because then it's still about earning quota spots for the Olympic Games in PyeongChang. Until last weekend there was also the clear statement that large hill competitions must be the exception for the ladies. So far it was only planned to carry out the World Cup final in Oslo on the large hill, but there was already an exception last year in Oberstdorf, even if only for technical reasons. Such issues were discussed at the meeting. After an intense and impressive debate, a vote was held and the majority of the committee member decided in favor of an additional competition on the large hill in Lillehammer.
FIS Ski Jumping: Sarah Hendrickson did a great job at this meeting.
Yoshida: Yes, Sarah did great. She spoke various times and what she had to say and how she said it obviously impressed the members of the committee. This is exactly how you imagine an athletes' representative to be. There was a lot of mutual respect.
FIS Ski Jumping: Also with the result that the first two team competitions (Hinterzarten and Zao) will be held in the Ladies' World Cup next winter.
Yoshida: This is an important step in order to get more ladies closer to the top. With this decision, the national ski associations now have to support more ladies. I think that we will have nine or ten teams competing next winter. Athletes who only competed in the Continental Cup so far will get a chance to compete in a World Cup event.
FIS Ski Jumping: The TV ratings were also presented in Portoroz and they were very good for ladies' Ski Jumping, the interest is growing.
Yoshida: The TV ratings were really good, slowly but surely ladies' Ski Jumping is getting more popular. I think that the viewers are also recognizing the fact that the quality and general level of the performance improved significantly over the last couple of years. The ladies earned this interest with their performances and they deserve it.