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Why Podium Pinches Bother Me

Unfortunately the last week of pro cycling has bothered me and it has nothing to do with doping.  I spend a lot of energy supporting women's cycling including explaining why last weekend's actions upset me.  After reading a few different takes on the situation, I wanted to voice my own opinion.

It all started last Sunday (March 31st) when Marianne Vos won her 1st Women's Tour of Flanders but I couldn't watch it live.  In contrast, the Men's Tour of Flanders was streaming live from the early kilometers but a bit boring with no attacks.  Several people, including the commentators, mentioned on twitter that it would have been great to cut over to the women rather than wait for the summary video.  After all, Marianne Vos is one of the greatest ever, male or female.  Maybe next year, the organizers will realize that the women deserve some live air time.

The men's race finally got exciting when Fabian Cancellara attacked on the Paterberg and won his 2nd Tour of Flanders by almost 90 seconds.  Watching the feed on our laptop, it was heartwarming to watch Fabian celebrate with his wife and you couldn't help but celebrate with him.  We turned off the feed to go skiing, so missed the podium pinch by 2nd place Peter Sagan.  Unfortunately it became the topic of discussion rather than the big wins by Marianne and Fabian or the fact that the women's race wasn't shown live.  I'm not going to rehash it, but Jane Aubrey speaks to what I was feeling about the situation.

Something else bothered me in addition to women's rights, consent, and an ongoing issue in cycling to provide equal opportunities for the women athletes, journalists, and staff.  This was Fabian's moment, not Peter's.  Fabian dropped everyone on the climb and time-trialed to victory.  He worked hard to get that top step on the podium and he deserved to have all eyes and attention on him in that moment and for the week to follow.  The pinch was very disrespectful to both Maja and Spartacus.

There was a quick twitter apology, followed by a video apology, Team Cannondale apology, and then an in-person apology.  I think Peter has learned what is acceptable and not, especially as a paid athlete representing several companies with global exposure.

As the weekend approached, the cycling community shifted from voicing their opinions on the pinch to a focus on the upcoming races.  Although many defended the pinch and others didn't really care, there were enough voices against the pinch that I felt some hope that the UCI and other race organizers may have taken notice and would make an effort toward change.  I sent a few tweets and voiced my opinion in cycling class when the topic came up, but honestly was still processing it and trying to make sense of some of the harsh comments I read against people for speaking up and expressing their opinions.

On Saturday, the topic was brought back to the spotlight and became more personal.  The Redlands Classic took place last Thursday thru Sunday.  Now & Novartis for MS rider Alison Powers was on a tear and won her 3rd straight stage.  Although there wasn't a live video feed, there were several journalists and fans at the race sending tweets, photos, and keeping us all informed.  The buzz was positive and women's cycling was getting deserved attention.  Then 3rd place Loren Rowney decided to pull a Peter and do a podium pinch.  The picture made its way around twitter and I became further disturbed by the reactions.  I know that it was a joke, as was Peter's, and there may have even been consent this time, but that isn't the point.  Again, not to rehash, Shauna Staveley speaks to what I've been thinking.

For the 2nd time in a week, the winner of a race had their moment overshadowed.  This was Alison's moment.  She had won every stage in the race including Saturday's crit and deserved all the attention, photos, and glory from the podium presentation.  She also deserved the follow-up buzz this week as the Redlands Classic overall winner.  I'm a huge fan of Specialized Lululemon and will continue to support the team and the companies that support them, but I wish things had been handled differently.

This is getting long, and although it feels good to finally voice my opinion, you get where I stand on this issue and I need to wrap it up.  I do want to close with a bit of my background and why I've come to realize that last weekend's actions not only bothered me as a cycling fan but as a female.  

I was the girl that played baseball with the boys, skied hard with the guys, and was lucky enough to have parents that cheered me on and didn't say "that's not for girls".  I went on to play basketball at an engineering college where the male to female ratio was so lopsided that I can only remember one other girl from my Mechanical Engineering courses.  We only had one court so the women's team had to practice from 5-8am so the men could have the court in the afternoons/evenings. I didn't realize it then, but it helped prepare me for the real world.  

My first job was at a manufacturing company in Texas where I was introduced to everyone as the "1st female engineer we've hired".  Not, the Engineering Student of the Year, or the Academic All American basketball player, or the new hire from Montana.  I've worked in several industries and roles, including other countries, and am usually in the minority.  Over the last 15 years, I've heard it all and it's often difficult to stand up to the comments and educate while keeping business moving forward.  Working in this environment in Utah as a married woman without children takes it to another level, but even then, I'm not that unique, even though some days it feels like it.  I firmly believe that for those of us in these positions, we have an obligation to the next generation of females to pave the way and make things easier for them.

I hope by voicing my opinion it gives others the courage to voice your own, whether you agree with me or not.  We can all learn from each other's experiences and work together to provide opportunities for the future.

Comments

  1. I never thought about the situation in that perspective! I totally agree that it was unacceptable behavior by both Loren and Peter, but I failed to notice that it was also rude of them because they were overshadowing the winners celebration. Great piece!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Clio. I appreciate the feedback. Congrats on starting your own blog.

    ReplyDelete

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