Germany’s Althaus says FIS ‘destroyed women’s ski jumping’ after disqualification chaos

Katharina Althaus of Germany in action during the first round of ski jumping mixed team event on Monday.

ZHANGJIAKOU, China (Reuters) — The International Ski Federation (FIS) has come under fire after a slew of disqualifications marred Monday’s first Olympic mixed team event, with one athlete saying the governing body had “destroyed” women’s ski jumping.

Germany, Austria, Norway and Japan all suffered disqualification for suit infringements, prompting anger and tears on what should have been a great night for the sport, but which ended up in fiasco.

Each team was made up of two women and two men, and all five of those disqualified were female.

“We were looking forward to the second competition at the Olympics. FIS destroyed that with this action — they destroyed women’s ski jumping,” Germany’s Katharina Althaus, who was one of those disqualified, told reporters.

“Our names are now (out) there and we just pulled the crap card. That is how you destroy nations, development and the entire sport.”

Horst Huttel, Germany’s head of Nordic events, said the situation was “outrageous”.

“This is a parody, but I am not laughing … It is outrageous that this happens with the four biggest ski-jump nations,” he added.

Norwegian ski jumping chief of sports Clas Brede Braathen said the experience was “very painful” for the athletes and that the issue should have been ironed out before the Olympics.

“The sport of ski jumping has experienced one of its darker days …,” he told reporters.

“I’m lost for words, really. I’m in pain on behalf of our sport.”

Wind resistence

With lightning-fast take-off runs and soaring leaps, wind resistance plays a huge part in ski jumping, and skis and suits are regularly checked by officials to ensure that competitors have not done anything to gain an unfair advantage.

Slovenia took the gold medal, with athletes representing the Russian Olympic Committee picking up the silver and Canada taking a shock bronze medal, but the focus quickly shifted from their achievement to how the rules were interpreted.

“I hope nobody ever experiences that again, it’s completely crazy,” Norwegian jumper Robert Johansson, who had been sitting on the bar preparing to jump when he found out about the disqualifications, told Reuters.

His team mates Silje Opseth and Anna Odine Stroem were both penalised, along with Germany’s Althaus, Japan’s Sara Takanashi and Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria.

A distraught Takanashi quickly left the arena, and Opseth was also in tears as she told reporters how her suit was the same one that she had worn in Saturday’s competition without any problem from the judges.

“I think they checked it in a new way today compared to what they had done previously, I think it’s very strange that they would suddenly change how they do it in the middle of a tournament,” Opseth said before breaking down in tears again.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m really just shaken. I’m sorry that I was disqualified today,” she said.

The judges at the competition declined to comment when asked to do so by Norwegian journalists.