If everything goes Lindsey Vonn’s way, the 32-year-old Olympic champion will soon be able to race men. Next week, the International Ski Federation will formally consider a proposal put forth by U.S. Ski and Snowboard to allow Vonn to enter any World Cup downhill race next season, NBC Sports reports.
“Further details are still unknown, but this is certainly an anticipated topic that divides the FIS officials,” FIS, which will hold technical meetings in Zurich on Oct. 5, said in a statement (via NBC Sports).
U.S. Ski and Snowboard did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment, although Vonn noted over the summer that such a proposal could go two ways if it’s accepted: Either Vonn could get a one-time exemption to enter a single men’s race, or the FIS could grant men’s races open to all women who meet required criteria to enter.
“I would take either, but I think obviously the singular exception would be easier because then I don’t have to go and build up a whole point profile with FIS points on the men’s side,” the four-time World Cup champion told Ski Racing magazine in July. “That might take me a little bit of time, but it’s not impossible.”
This is at least the second time Vonn has petitioned FIS to allow her to race against men, although it’s the first petition that will be submitted formally by U.S. Ski and Snowboard, according to NBC Sports.
FIS officials denied her proposal in 2012, noting (via NBC Sports) “that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other.”
Earlier this year, FIS women’s race director Atle Skaardal elaborated on some of the federation’s reasoning behind keeping men’s and women’s races separate.
“It will be a very difficult challenge to find a reasonable way of doing this. Because one point that everyone is underestimating is that we need to have equal rights for everyone. So if the ladies are allowed to race with the men, then also the men need to be authorized to ski with the ladies,” Skaardel said in an FIS news release in June. “And I’m not sure this is a direction we want to go.”
Skaardel’s challenge at that time was to U.S. Ski and Snowboard, which she challenged to bring “a concrete proposal of how this is supposed to be done to fit into the rules.”
If Vonn, who is rumored to be retiring after the 2018-19 season, gets her desired one-time exemption, it’s likely she’ll enter the men’s race at Lake Louise, a favorite course of hers that’s hosted 18 of her 77 World Cup victories.
“I’d like to have one chance in my life to race against [men],” Vonn told the New York Times in 2012 of her longtime goal. “I’m not asking for World Cup points. I’m not asking for any of that. I just want the chance to compete.”