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Women seek Russian backing for right to fly
WHISTLER (Reuters) - A delegation of women ski jumpers will on Saturday seek Russian support for their bid to have the sport included in the 2014 Winter Games, which will be hosted by the southern Russian city of Sochi.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has so far declined to sanction women's ski jumping in the Games on the grounds that not enough women are competing worldwide.
Female athletes have lost two Canadian court rulings in their bid to force the organisers of the Vancouver Games to allow women to compete.
Deedee Corradini, president of Women's Ski Jumping USA, said she would seek a meeting on Saturday at the Sochi delegation's official headquarters in Vancouver.
"We're just trying to build bridges ... and we're hoping the Sochi 2014 people will send a letter to the IOC saying that we would like the women jumping in Sochi," she told Reuters in an interview on Friday.
Corradini, sporting a bright official Sochi 2014 scarf, said she would invite the Russian women's team to a training camp in Salt Lake City in June 2010.
She also plans to hand over a glossy colour brochure on women's ski jumping. It contains quotes from Russian women jumpers on why they should be allowed to compete.
Ski jumping has been an Olympic sport since 1924 but is one of the few events in either the Winter or Summer Games that does not have competitions for both men and women. All new sports allowed into the Games must be gender equal.
The women jumpers say the refusal of the IOC to let them compete makes it much harder to raise money.
Canadian jumper Katie Willis, 18, one of two athletes accompanying Corradini, said she had given up the sport for now because of the uncertainty over its Olympic future.
"Given everything we've been through, I just couldn't see myself going for another four years if it wasn't for sure," she said, citing the strain of the court cases.
Willis dismissed the idea that there were not enough female competitors, noting 166 women from 18 countries took part in contests arranged by the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Ironically, the official hill record for the Whistler normal hill was set by female U.S. jumper Lindsey Van in 2008. Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer set a new record during a qualification jump on Friday.
(Editing by Jon Bramley;
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