Olympics-Women's ski jumping set for Sochi, says FIS head

LONDON, April 5 Tue Apr 5, 2011 2:15pm EDT

LONDON, April 5 (Reuters) - The long-awaited approval of women's ski jumping for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics now looks a formality, ski federation head Gian Franco Kasper said on Tuesday.

"The ladies ski jumping has become a purely political question," the International Ski Federation (FIS) president told Reuters at the Sportaccord Convention where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is also meeting to decide on new events.

"But I think that is rather a formality. With the others, I really do not know."

Apart from ski jumping, other events up for consideration include ski halfpipe (men and women), ski slopestyle (men and women), snowboard slopestyle (men and women), biathlon mixed team relay, the figure skating team event and luge team relay.

The IOC's powerful executive board is expected to announce a decision on most of the events on Wednesday after postponing a ruling late last year, with IOC president Jacques Rogge saying some may need to be monitored a little longer.

Kasper said an Alpine team event and the women's ski jumping were the priorities for his governing body.

"We will see what comes out. I am quite sure that they will accept all the events, not only from skiing but also luge and the team event in skating and biathlon," said the Swiss IOC member.

"Sochi has a little different list to what the IOC has or that we have because they want to have only those new events where they have a certain medal chance," said Kasper.

Women's ski jumping tried to win a place in last year's Vancouver Games but was rejected on the grounds that performance levels were not good enough and too few nations and athletes were involved.

"It has improved since then, no question," said Kasper.

"We have now more athletes and increased the level of performance so I believe they are ready now. But it is a political question for the IOC. That's why I am very sure they will accept it.

"I think that's more a formality, on condition that the Russians agree of course."

If women's ski jumping is given the go-ahead, the nordic combined event -- which mixes cross country skiing and ski jumping -- will be the only one at the Winter Games without any female competitors.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ken Ferris; To query or comment on this story emailsportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)