Under Where? Ski Racer Heats Up Controversy

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 Slovenia being sanctioned from World Cup races due to suspicious ‘plastic underwear’, I’m beginning to worry about her racing future.
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.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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  1. lol ^^ Karen that’s funny. Truly it is the talent of the athlete, more then the equipment.

    The media sure likes to get up in arms over some seriously crazy stuff!

  2. Not an expert in either skiing nor underwear, but it seems to me that if the underwear is that good at blocking out wind/cold, it would probably cause someone to overheat in other circumstances, putting her at a disadvantage. So it would all even out, right?

  3. Okay, that’s just silly. The type of underwear creating an advantage? Next they will check to see someone’s arm hairs are at an approved length. If they are too short, they may have the advantage of not being weighed down. Really?!

  4. All I could think of when reading this post is HOW do you handle your nerves when you daughter travels so fast as a ski racer?! Training & proper equipment probably offers some peace of mind? I’m a brand new mom to a toddler and when he climbs up to jump off the sofa I have an anxiety attack! LOL…I hope to out grow that as he gets older and involved in activities.

    1. Cynthia, I’ll admit that my nerves do give me a stomach ache whenever my kids race, but they’ve been doing it a long time and I know they love it. Lots of sports are dangerous…and jumping off the sofa caused more injuries to my son than ski racing has!

  5. That’s crazy! I can not believe that a pair of neoprene underwear would give her that much of an advantage! And if they really did liken it to doping. . . really crazy!

  6. Dear Jennifer,
    I learned a lot from your post today. Even though I follow the winter Olympics every four years, I still am virtually ignorant of what the various equipment can or cannot do. Somehow though, despite that ignorance, I think that something’s not right here. Underpants could win the race? What about weather or that heat someone mentioned that the underpants might cause? I’m going to start watching this story in the sports section of the paper.


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