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Vonn Won’t Abandon Ambition to Race in Men’s Downhill

Lindsey Vonn’s request to race against the men on the World Cup circuit this month in Canada was rejected by the International Ski Federation said.

Olympic downhill champion Vonn asked the sport’s governing body in early October to be able to compete in a men’s downhill on Nov. 24 in Lake Louise, Alberta. The American, the most successful ski racer of her generation with 53 World Cup wins, has won the women’s race there nine times.

Although the federation said it “respected,” Vonn’s proposal, it “confirmed that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other and exceptions will not be made to the FIS Rules,” the Oberhofen, Switzerland-based organization said in an e-mailed statement.

“‘In terms of her request to participate in the men’s downhill in Lake Louise, she is welcome to submit a request to the organizing committee and jury to be a forerunner,” it added.

Vonn’s proposal was discussed yesterday after the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association sent a letter to FIS President Gian Franco Kasper on Oct. 30 asking the federation’s council to “consider her request to ski a men’s race at some point in her career.”

“Lindsey Vonn is a great champion in our sport and we have always respected her interests in this new challenge,” USSA President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Marolt said yesterday in a statement. “She has achieved greatness from here tenacity to seek new challenges. We’re disappointed that the FIS Council did not support the proposal but also respect its decision.”

FIS women’s race director Atle Skaardal had told reporters in Zurich last month that Vonn’s request was “complicated” because the women’s event at Lake Louise takes place a week after the men’s. Under the FIS rules, no one can ski on a race course a week prior to competition.

Colorado resident Vonn said in an interview on Oct. 26 in Soelden, Austria, that she asked to test herself against the men because she beats them in training and wants “to try to push the limit.”

Vonn said she’d try to race men next year, should her request be turned down for this season.

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