For the first time, the women’s skating events at the 2022 Olympics referred to participants as that, rather than as “ladies”, a term many consider long outdated.
According to a June announcement by the International Skating Union, this year’s Winter Olympics are the first to designate figure skaters as “women” rather than “ladies” – a subtle but significant change that changes the way figure skaters have qualified and performed for years.
This comes after a 2018 IOC Gender Equity Reviewrecommending the use of equivalent terminology to refer to men’s and women’s events concerning international sports federations.
“The equivalent of ‘ladies’ would be ‘gents’, and the ‘men’ event has been the ‘men’ event for as long as I know,” said 2014 Olympic bronze medalist and correspondent Ashley Wagner. Peacock’s “Olympic Ice Show”. ” told NBC Sports. “Bringing in that element of gender equality – however small and superfluous it may be… It’s a big moment.”
The Winter Olympics have historically set strict guidelines for sex, costumes, and even behavior. However, this year’s Olympics comes with many firsts in expanding inclusivity, despite some controversial rules that still remain.
Here’s a look at how the Winter Games historically initiated such restrictions and led to changes today.
Figure Skating Costumes
Figure skating costumes have always been an exciting aspect of the Winter Olympics. Feathers, beads and other decorative elements are fun to watch, aside from the performances themselves. And while the rules for these costumes are pretty subjective, that hasn’t always been the case.
In 1988, the ISU implemented the “Katarina Rule”, named after East German skater Katarina Witt, who made headlines after she wore a costume that mistakenly exposed her buttock during performance. The rule stated that women wore a skirt that covered their hips, buttocks and midriff after Witt played with a blue costume adorned at the waist.
That same year, the ISU temporarily banned costumes without a skirt after an American skater named Debi Thomas wore a black beaded leotard that lacked one. However, both of these bans were lifted in 2003. One of the main rules the ISU currently requires regarding costumes is that decorations not be detachable.
When it comes to the Olympics, gender roles play an important role in qualifying for sporting events. Yet this year’s Olympics happen to be the most gender-balanced to date, with female athletes making up 45% of the listing. However, this does not address some of the gender issues that have arisen in the past.
Some of the notable controversies related to these issues include 2008 when Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome, along with 15 other female ski jumpers, sued the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee for gender discrimination over the exclusion of women’s ski jumping from the Olympic programme, while the men’s ski jumping had been on the list since 1924, the first Winter Games. At this year’s Winter Games, women’s ski jumpers failed to qualify.
Although figure skating was first dominated by men, it was only 1936 that women were allowed to compete in sports other than figure skating, starting with alpine skiing. After that, women made their debut in downhill and slalom in 1948, among other sports in the years to come.
This year, one-piece was introduced as a new bobsleigh event, involving female competitors only.
A record number of 34 LGBTQ+ athletes are participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics. An amount that doubled from 2018, when 15 out of two athletes competed.
It comes after the IOC published a framework in November addressing equity guidelines regarding gender identity and sex variation. The framework which was developed after two years of consultations with more than 250 athletes and “other stakeholders” mentions rules concerning the prevention of harm, non-discrimination, the right to privacy and the absence of presumption of advantage.
However, before that, the Winter Olympics have faced major backlash in the past for their exclusion of LGBTQ+ athletes. An example occurred during the 2014 Games in Russia, when a coalition of activists protested and campaigned for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Such protests began in March 2012 when a Russian judge blocked the creation of a Pride House in Sochi, finding that “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” would “undermine the security of Russian society”, and that it was contrary to public morals and to the policies of the country “in the field of family motherhood and the protection of children”. However, the protests grew and focused mainly on the signing of a law by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which prohibits the dissemination of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors.
Many have called this law a ban on “gay propaganda”. In September 2014, the IOC issued an anti-discrimination statement clause to its host city contract.
The clause reads: “Any form of discrimination against any country or person on grounds of race, religion, politics, sex or otherwise is incompatible with membership in the Olympic movement. .”
Black representation (or lack of)
The Winter Olympics of the year will have its first Haitian Olympian, Richard Viano, for his alpine skiing competition – one of many firsts for black representation at the Winter Olympics to date. However, out of nearly 3,000 athletes competing this year, only 12 of them are black.
In an interview with NBC’s “The podium“, Andre Horton, the first black alpine skier in the history of the American team, spoke of the economic and geographical inaccessibility while the main barrier for more inclusiveness in sport. For example, according to the National Ski Areas Association, about 88% of visitors to ski areas in the United States during the 2019-2020 season were white, while less than 2% were black.
“Winter sports in the United States, for example, haven’t really done much work to complement or offset the economic disadvantages of trying to get into the sport,” Horton said in “The Podium.” “I think last time I checked it was $80-90 for the day and it doesn’t even matter if you’re a junior or if you’re a kid.”
The IOC has also rejected a request from the coaches of Ghanaian skeleton racer Akwasi Frimpong and Nigerian skeleton racer Simidele Adeagbo to return to bobsleigh and skeleton. continental quotas for this year’s Winter Olympics amid concerns of a lack of African runners. These continental quotas allow athletes from unrepresented countries to qualify, provided they meet basic safety and participation requirements.
“Currently, Olympic sliding sports will be without any African representation after immensely popular participation in the 2018 Games in PyeongChang,” said bobsleigh coaches Brian McDonald and Zach Lund. written in a letter to the IOC in December. “We should not allow Olympic sport to take a step back in terms of including African nations successfully competing in the Winter Olympics.”
The continental quota also helped Frimpong and Adeagbo in 2018 in Pyeongchang by becoming the first African athletes to compete as skeleton riders in the Winter Olympics.
Allegations of racism involving the Winter Olympics are also evident, as bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, a three-time Olympian and three-time Olympian with three medals, has spoken out about it in previous interviews.
It’s safe to say that more black representation — and initiatives to sustain such efforts — continue to be lacking at the Winter Olympics, so there’s still work to be done.
Of 224 American athletes at the 2022 Winter Olympics, only a handful are athletes of color, but these five Olympic stars are making a difference, on and off the ice.