Why it's time to let ladies fly
As far as I am concerned, anybody who is willing to stand on two long planks and throw himself or herself down an icy slope, wearing only a helmet and a cat suit for protection, deserves a medal - an Olympic one if they are especially good at it.
Sadly, that reward is only open to "himself" at the moment and the world's finest female ski jumpers will probably not be at the Winter Olympics next year.
That is a shame as the current record-holder for the hill the men will be using at Whistler is called Lindsey, and she has just become her sport's first ever women's world champion.
It is also a shame because ski jumping, an Olympic sport since 1924, is now the only sport on the winter schedule to exclude women.
I say "probably" because Lindsey Van and nine other flying females go to the British Columbia Supreme Court on 20 April to argue that Vancouver 2010's organising committee (Vanoc) is violating Canadian law by not inviting them to the Games.
Victory there would be perhaps the most significant result of the 24-year-old American's career and a giant leap forward for women's Olympic sport.
But before we start burning sports bras, I should explain how Van versus Vanoc came about, because while the technicalities of ski jumping are wasted on me (I couldn't stay upright when I tried it on a Wii) the story of why women's ski jumping is not already in the Olympics is an all-too familiar tale of broken promises, muddled thinking and old-fashioned chauvinism.
Gung-ho skiing types have been jumping for centuries, although it took until the 19th century for people to start organising competitions. But having built the hill, the people came - it was no surprise when ski jumping was included in the nine-sport programme of the first Winter Games.
It should also surprise nobody that ski jumping in Chamonix was a men-only event, as the few women willing/allowed to try the sport at this time were expected to do so with a man holding their hand. After you, dear.
Not a great deal changed for the next 50 years or so. Lots of Finns and Norwegians won Olympic and World titles but the hill remained a female-free zone.
This medieval state of affairs could not, however, last forever - after all, a mark of modern society is that women have just as much right to endanger themselves as men, so the sisters started ski jumping.
By the 1990s, women ski jumpers felt ready to ask for international and Olympic recognition. Officialdom, however, was not ready for them.
Ignored by the sport's authorities - the instinctively conservative and predominately male International Ski Federation (FIS) - they got nowhere with the Olympic bigwigs - the instinctively conservative and predominately male International Olympic Committee (IOC).
But their arguments - the injury risk is no greater for women than men, women can jump just as well as men as it is about technique not power, the sport has established itself internationally, it's the 21st century you sexist pigs - were slowly getting through.
In 2004, the FIS finally agreed to develop women's ski jumping with a Continental Cup for the elite and a Junior World Championships for the next generation.
All this despite FIS boss Gian-Franco Kaspar, who in 2005 likened the sport to jumping off two-metre-high roofs a thousand times a year, which "seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view".
Thankfully, the women took his advice about not repeatedly leaping off roofs and stuck to ski jumping. There are now 130 registered competitors from 16 nations and this season's Continental Cup comprised 25 events in eight different countries.
A more important decision came in 2006, when the FIS agreed to let women jumpers join the men at the 2009 World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic.
And at the same meeting, delegates voted 114-1 to petition the IOC to admit women's ski jumping to the Vancouver 2010 programme. The sole dissenting voice came from a Swiss delegate: Switzerland being the home of the FIS, the IOC and Kaspar.
So, with the governing body now on board, more women competing from more countries, and the IOC publicly committed to "gender equity", confirmation of a first Olympic women's ski jumping event in Vancouver was a given, right?
The short version of what happened at the IOC's executive board meeting in November 2006 is that women's ski jumping (along with new wheezes like the biathlon mixed relay and mixed doubles curling) failed to make the cut, while ski cross (what we used to call a Chinese downhill on my school skiing trips) did.
The long, and admittedly partisan, version of what happened at that Kuwait meeting is an epic of sporting realpolitik, commercialism and farce.
According to an official at Women's Ski Jumping USA (WSJUSA), the Utah-based group that is carrying the fight for Olympic inclusion, some IOC members voted according to their home nation's medal chances, while others juggled Olympic ideals with the more pressing concerns of broadcasters and sponsors.
This is the reason, the official claimed, the X Games favourite ski cross will be making its Olympic debut - for men and women - in 2010 and not women's ski jumping.
IOC president Jacques Rogge has dismissed the conspiracy theories, stating more than once that women's ski jumping will have to wait until there are more competitors at the elite level. To include the event too soon would "dilute" the value of Olympic medals.
This sounds reasonable until the WSJUSA points out there are only 30 elite female competitors from 11 nations in ski cross, while the numbers for snowboard cross are 34 and 10, and for women's bobsleigh 26 and 13.
Last season, 99 women ski jumpers, representing 15 countries, took part in top-flight FIS competition. This season, 35 women from nine nations have achieved top-10 finishes. This is comparable to the depth of competition on the men's circuit.
Which brings me back to Van, who fought back from a career-threatening knee injury to claim her world title, and her nine fellow plaintiffs.
Vanoc's position is that it would love to stage a women's ski jumping competition, and could still do so, but it is not Vanoc's call. The IOC decides the events programme.
The IOC says it is guided on these matters by the relevant international federation.
And the FIS says don't look at us, haven't we just staged the first ever world championships?
Faced with this impenetrable triangle of blame-shifting, the women ski jumpers have been forced to challenge Vanoc on the basis it is has received public money and should therefore operate under Canadian law.
As Ross Clark, the lawyer representing the group, said: "The IOC may be free to discriminate: Vanoc, by spending public funds, is not."
So the Olympic hopes of Van, her talented US team-mates and their rivals from across the world hinge on a lawyer's ability to persuade a court that Vanoc is, in effect, a government department.
If Clark loses that argument Van will be sat at home next February watching the men take on her Whistler record. That can't be right, can it?
"I would feel kind of lost and a little bit betrayed," she told me when I asked how she would feel about missing out. "It will hurt if we're not there, for sure."
I think it will hurt Vancouver 2010 and the Olympic movement too.
The IOC talks a good game on equality but as our Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has just pointed out, the rhetoric does not match up to the reality.
At last summer's Olympics were there 165 medal events for men and 127 for women, who made up just 42% of the total athlete population in Beijing. At the last Winter Olympics in Turin, the athlete split was 62/38.
Jowell's comments provoked predictable headlines about women's boxing and synchronised swimming for blokes but she had a good point to make.
You can argue about the merits of an Olympic women's Greco-Roman wrestling competition but can anybody tell me why female canoeists, rowers, shooters and track cyclists should have fewer medal opportunities than their male counterparts?
The world's best women ski jumpers will get their day in court next month and hopefully they will be given the chance to ask a similar question, because I don't think there is a defensible answer.
I'll leave the last word to Van.
"Our sport is ready and people need to realise that. We didn't start jumping yesterday, we've been jumping for years."