In response to our post on athletic gender testing earlier this week, one of our most treasured commenters posed this stumper:
Are there no sports where being a woman might be a competitive advantage over being a man? Equestrian events maybe, or long distance swimming?
Tough one! We’ve long been familiar with some research vouching for the supposed superiority of women in ultra-marathons, but we’re not sure the totality of the sport’s results bears out that thesis. And certainly in the longest running event sanctioned by the IAAF, the brutal 100k, the male world record (by Japan’s Takahiro Sunada) is a good 20 minutes faster than its female counterpart.
But over at Metafilter, where a similar discussion is taking place, a commenter made an intriguing proposition: what about ski jumping? Would women have a natural advantage their due to weight and balance edges? (Keep in mind that there’s a good reason why the balance beam isn’t a part of male gymnastics.) The problem is, female ski jumping is still a very young sport, still lacking Olympic recognition. But as the sport gains new adherents, could female distances and overall scores someday surpass those of males?