Kiteboarding hopeful for Olympic Status

Published on May 18th, 2017

The Olympics finally opened the door to windsurfing at the Los Angeles 1984 Games with the Men’s event on the Windglider. This was also the introduction of gender-based competition, a specification not previously made for sailing at the Olympics.

However, the notion of open competition was a bit of a fallacy as most of the other six events, specifically the Finn, Flying Dutchman, Soling, and Star, were not well suited to women. In fact there were only two women competing for medals in 1984 – Catherine Foster in the 470 and Inge Trine Elvstrøm in the Tornado.

To highlight women, the 1984 Games did have an exhibition event for women in the Windglider, and while the competition was not for Olympic medals, it did create momentum for change. The 1988 Games had the first women’s only event in the 470, with the women finally getting their windsurfing event at the 1992 Games.

Kiteboarding is hopeful that change comes quicker for them after World Sailing (WS) proposed the event as one of two “showcase” disciplines to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

In a late February WS Council meeting delegates decided men’s and women’s kiteboarding events should grace the XXXII summer Olympiad, along with keelboat racing, in addition to sailing’s existing 10 medal disciplines.

The IOC will consider the proposal in the coming months, but any final move on the “showcase” events would come after the decision about the Olympic medal events in July.

However, many uncertainties still remain. While the format and equipment is yet to be selected, the kiteboarding events will almost certainly be some form of “short-track” hydrofoil racing, with proposed 20 men and 20 women competing in separate events.

Although it is not entirely clear what “showcase” events would actually entail, or how much prominence and attention they will be afforded compared to full medal events, they are hopeful to become full medal events at future Games.

Gaining “Showcase” status for both men’s and women’s events offers certain upsides compared to “full medal status”, particularly in terms of greater flexibility over competition format and equipment.

Coming on the back of kiteboarding’s debut at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games with Twin-Tip slalom racing in Argentina, kite hydrofoil racing holds out the promise of electrifying the sailing world with the closest, fastest competition even in the lightest conditions.

Source: IKA, Scuttlebutt

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