For the second time in just four days, controversial disqualifications are making headlines in the Beijing Winter Olympics.
According to Reuters, five women from the mixed team ski jump event were disqualified on Monday because of their clothing.
The skiers were from Austria, Japan, Norway and Germany, and each of them was wearing a uniform that was deemed to be in violation of the sport’s rules.
The event has “complex rules that link suits and skis to bodyweight in an attempt to remove any advantage that might be gained by athletes being lighter,” Reuters reported.
The disqualifications were particularly detrimental for Germany, which failed to make the Olympic finals after winning four consecutive world championships, the report said.
German national team coach Stefan Horngacher said Katharina Althaus was wearing the same suit as she wore on Saturday when she won silver in the individual women’s ski jump. On Monday, the suit was found to be noncompliant, and Althaus was disqualified.
“For me it is a puppet theater,” Horngacher said. “The entire season the suits have been an issue.
“I am unbelievably angry and I don’t understand it. We had super jumps. You can only be disappointed with this.”
If Althaus lost weight between Saturday and Monday, it is possible she could have worn the same suit and been in violation of the rules, Reuters reported. Yet that level of micro-managing is exactly what Horngacher was frustrated with.
Althaus herself also spoke out strongly against her disqualification.
“The [International Ski Federation] destroyed everything with this operation,” the 25-year-old said, according to Yahoo! Sports. “I think they have destroyed women’s ski jumping.
“I have been checked so many times in 11 years of ski jumping, and I have never been disqualified once. I know my suit was compliant.”
Japan’s Sara Takanashi was so upset about being disqualified that she questioned whether will she continue to compete, The Mainichi reported.
Olympics: Sara Takanashi questions jumping future after missing in Beijing https://t.co/8nGMeM1hsj
— The Mainichi (Japan Daily News) (@themainichi) February 6, 2022
Slovenia took home gold in the team event, Reuters reported. This was not completely unexpected, as Slovenian skiers Ursa Bogataj and Nika Kriznar won gold and bronze in the women’s individual event.
The Russian Olympic Committee won silver, and Canada won bronze despite being a long shot when the event began, Reuters reported.
It is impossible not to wonder whether the podium would have looked much different without the disqualifications.
“It is annoying that this happens at the Winter Olympic Games,” Horngacher said. “This should all be cleared before.”
Norwegian ski jumping chief of sports Clas Brede Braathen agreed, but he was more pointed in his comments.
“I am sorry on behalf of ski jumping,” he said, according to Yahoo. “This is something we should have cleaned up in before the Olympics. The sport of ski jumping has experienced one of its darker days today.”
Women have faced opposition “for decades” in their quest to get ski jumping added to the Olympics, Yahoo reported. The women’s individual event was added in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and this year was the first mixed team event.
“I’m in pain on behalf of our sport,” Braathen said. “We were going to introduce a new event. The girls were to get a new event in the Olympics, and that’s how it ends. And why are only girls being disqualified?”
While there has not been any evidence to prove the disqualifications stemmed from sexism, they have cast a dark stain on the first iteration of this event in the Olympics.
Monday’s controversy follows a similar one on Saturday.
During the mixed team short-track speedskating relay, the United States finished second in its semifinal heat, which was supposed to earn a place in the finals, USA Today reported.
However, a judge ruled upon video review that Team USA had committed an infraction, meaning third-place China would go to the finals. China went on to win gold in the event.