A spot on racer’s podium is worth more for males
The Norwegian woman who raced to victory at the recent boardercross event at Buttermilk pocketed $12,500 in prize money.
Her male counterpart, the Frenchman who negotiated the same course to victory in the men’s division, won $25,000 of the event’s $100,000 total purse.
The differential in prize money is not unusual.
In the 24 Hours of Aspen endurance race on Aspen Mountain last month, the winning women’s team collected $10,000, while the top men’s team took home a $25,000 check. It was the first time the annual event has featured a prize purse.
In both cases, according to organizers, the purse was divvied up based on the greater number of men who competed.
The International Snowboard Federation recommends a 65/35 split of prize money, with most of the dollars going to the men, according to Erik Kalacis, event chairman for the Swatch Boardercross World Tour event at Buttermilk.
“The ratio of men to women competitors is about 65 to 35. We divide the prize money accordingly,” he said. “If there were 50 percent women and 50 percent men, the prize money would be split in half.”
Kalacis works for Peak Sports and Entertainment, a Washington-based event-management company that organized the boardercross event for Swatch, the title sponsor.
The competition at Buttermilk featured 80 men and 25 women.
The 24 Hours race featured eight two-man teams and two teams of women.
The men, facing the greater competition presented by a larger field, win more money as a result, according to Rose Abello, spokeswoman for the Aspen Skiing Co.
“I’m sure that it’s probably in line with all the others, like tennis and golf,” Abello said. “I’m sure the LPGA doesn’t have as large a purse as the PGA.”
The 24 Hours race also paid out prize money for second and third places in the men’s division. With only two women’s teams, only the top women’s team won money.
Theoretically, though, if a women’s team was ever to win the race overall, they could collect less prize money than the top men’s team finishing behind them.
“I don’t think that would ever happen, if you look at the times. . I guess it would be an interesting problem to have,” Abello said. “I guess we’d figure something out if it happened.”
Winners of the 24 Hours are determined by the number of laps down the mountain they complete in 24 hours. In the case of a tie among teams, which is typical, the average time teams take to complete each lap determines the winners.
Last year’s overall winner was the Swiss men’s team, which completed 72 laps in an average time of 2 minutes, 52.13 seconds. The top women’s team, the U.S. women, completed 71 laps in an average time of 3:08:11.
In World Cup racing, prize payouts can vary, though the FIS establishes equal minimum purses for men and women, according to Tom Kelly, vice president of public relations for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.
For example, in alpine events, the FIS rules require a minimum overall purse of 100,000 Swiss francs, or about $60,000, for both men and women. It is then divided up among the top finishers. The FIS is the federation that governs international ski racing.
However, event organizers may add to that minimum purse if they so choose, so winners could receive a different payout, for example, in Aspen than in Vail, Kelly said.
When a venue hosts World Cup racing for both men and women at the same time, he said equal prize money is the norm.
“I’d be real surprised if an organizer would hold men’s and women’s racing and have a disparity,” he said.
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