It takes a lot of guts to be a female ski racer. Imagine hurtling your body down 1000 vertical feet on three inch wide, five foot long planks over rock hard icy snow navigating a maze of fiberglass poles spring loaded to smack your body when you hit them. All this is done in a glorified body suit in freezing cold temperatures and within 30-60 seconds.
Sounds like fun, huh?
When my daughter suits up for her slalom ski races this weekend, one thing I wasn’t going to be worried about was her underwear. Seriously – she wears the normal racer gear – layers of long undies, thin wool socks, and a super padded top called a ‘stealth’ to avoid bruising her well muscled torso and arms. When she leaves the start gate no one has ever asked what she was wearing under there.
But after yesterday’s news about Tina Maze of
being sanctioned from World Cup races due to suspicious ‘plastic underwear’, I’m beginning to worry about her racing future. Slovenia
Ski races are won and lost in a hundredth of a second, making aerodynamics and wind resistance a huge factor in the competition – hence the skin tight speed suit. But these suits aren’t completely wind proof, and that’s where Tina’s underwear issue comes in. After placing second in her last race in Austria, officials accused her of having an ‘unfair advantage’ due to the type of garment she wore under her speed suit – plastic neoprene underwear supposedly providing additional protection from the wind, thus giving her that extra ‘hundredth’ that might help her win.
The thing about ski racing, though, is that it’s really hard to measure that unfair advantage. Unlike swimming or running, which always has a consistent race measurement, ski racing times and results vary for many different factors. Every hill is different, and every course is different. There is no set time or length for a ski run. Course conditions vary from the first racer to the last racer and from men to women. Weather can impede visibility, melt snow, or blow it into the face of the competitor.
So to me, to accuse Tina Maze of an equivalent infraction to doping seems a tad excessive. Ski racers do what they can to make it down the hill as fast as possible – better wax, sharper edges, a specific type of ski. But I hardly think a ladies’ underwear is cause for sanctions.
|Tina Maze via Official Facebook Fan Page|
As for my daughter? Well, when she waits in line to cross the wand and start her run, I’ll remind her that ladies NEVER show their undies to anyone. It’s not their business.