Film If the web has opened my eyes to anything, and social media in particular lately, it's the quote how much discrimination women have to endure and particular the kinds of discrimination which amounts to old dudes telling women that they know what's best for them. One especially egregious example surrounds the Winter Olympics and women's ski jumping. Despite the sport's deep history in across both genders, the IOC decided that out of all the sports in the Winter Olympics, women should not be allowed to ski jump. It's a similar situation to boxing in the Summer games and the reasons disappointingly similar, amounting to "we won't let you do it in case you get hurt", even though it's really up to a person themselves to decide if they want to have the risk and even though they're already putting themselves "at risk" in every other tournament as though they didn't exist. Oh and also in many cases out performing the men.
Ready To Fly is the story of the women's ski jumping flighting for inclusion in the Winter Olympics, focusing in particular on Lindsey Van, one of its greatest proponents. Apparently a fairly typical example of the kind of sport documentary which turn up in recommendations of Netflix, it does indeed include the usual montages of competitions, and isn't the usual thing I'd bother with when there's still another episode of House of Cards to see. But continue watching, as I did, and you'll find hidden beneath a really empowering story of another group of women having to fight for equality, incredulously seeking an approval which has already be conferred on women in other disciplines and men in theirs, forever being knocked back for reasons which look for all the world look like nothing but spite or those old dudes reaffirming an authority which they see ebbing away.
It's not perfect, it's a bit rough and ready. There's an interminable section about fundraising which seems to go on forever and although it exists to show the team bonding is about as interesting as finding yourself watching a video of complete strangers at a party you didn't attend. There's also a sense after a while that the real action, in other words the process of negotiation for the sport's including in the Olympics is happening elsewhere and could do with a few more expository contributors. But the focus of the piece always returns to Lindsey Van, a remarkable young athlete who at one point seems to have the fate of her sport resting on her shoulders, but never seems to lose her levity and at one point makes a life decision which is entirely breathtaking and will make you wonder, just as it did for me, whether you're just doing enough or at the very least, doing it wrong.
Ready To Fly is on Netflix but nowhere else as far as I can see. :(
Posted on Monday, January 13, 2014