Olympic official gives talk at Yukon College

Moira Lassen is sick of sexism, something she has had to deal with as a woman in a male-dominated sport.

Moira Lassen is sick of sexism, something she has had to deal with as a woman in a male-dominated sport.

“Over the years I’ve been patted on my head repeatedly, told I was lucky to be there (because) ‘it’s not a women’s sport anyway,’” said Lassen, who has also been the target of both sexual advances and even unfounded accusations of corruption.

“(At one competition) a really big, sloppy man, with food stains all over his tie and dirty slacks on, told me that I had to wear nylons to look like a lady,” mused Lassen, fully aware of the irony.

As part of Women’s History Month, Lassen, the first female to act as technical controller in weightlifting at the Olympic Games, gave a talk at Yukon College Wednesday.

“We are very proud to have Moira Lassen speak to Yukon College students,” said Lynn Echevarria, Women’s Studies program co-ordinator at Yukon College, in a press release.

“Her leadership role in her field has distinguished her from her peers, and we are pleased to have her share her perspectives in honour of Women’s History Month.”

The audience may have been small, with just a half-dozen in attendance, but the stories were large.

Hoping to inspire others to overcome adversity of all kinds, Lassen outlined the trials and tribulations of being a women in a male-dominated sport.

“All my biggest challenges have come to me because I’m a woman,” said Lassen, who is a board member of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sports, an Ottawa based organization devoted to getting more women involved in sports, both as athletes and officials.

One such gross and disturbing incident Lassen recalled was witnessing was a Canadian official peeking into the women’s weigh-in space, attempting to catch a glimpse a 17-year-old girl in the nude. (Many weightlifters weigh in without clothes.)

“I didn’t think that this person would be capable of that,” said Lassen.

At one event, some male officials overseeing the weigh-in, invented a rule that called for athletes to hold their arms to their sides in order to prevent them from covering themselves — at least, one would assume.

“In fact, in India — and these are youth games — they still have men in the vicinity while women weighed-in, and male coaches coming in with the naked 16-year-old girl on the scale,” said Lassen, who just returned from a meet in India.

“It’s stunning that this still exists.”

“(The athletes) are supposed to be feeling empowered and strong and here they are at their most vulnerable and naked.”

Lassen is also the proud mother of local weightlifting celebrity, Jeane Lassen, who finished eighth in the 75-kilogram division at the Olympic Games in August.

As an athlete, Jeane Lassen occasionally had to endure discrimination from a different angle.

“I think male coaches, at least in my sport, don’t trust that female athletes know what’s best for them,” said Jeane Lassen. “They do coddle female athletes and I think their biggest fear is that an athlete will cry and they don’t want to see that happen because they don’t know how to deal with it…

“(We) don’t get to take as big of jumps (in weight) between events. It’s very hard to convince a male coach to let you do what you want to do.”

“There are female coaches,” continued Jeane Lassen. “But you have to be 10 times as good to get the same respect.”

Being a staunch supporter of women’s place in sports, and not one to miss an opportunity to make a point, Lassen broke the rules briefly while officiating at the Games.

“An Iranian lifter was lifting and I saw the two coaches standing there,” recollected Lassen. “Technical controllers are not supposed to be in line with the cameras, but I saw an opportunity to make a point…

“I stood right besides them in view of the camera, so people in Iran would see a woman in a position of power over male coaches.”

Just Posted

Child Development Centre marks 40 years of service

CDC now serves families throughout the territory

Triple J’s expands offerings with new skin care line

The products feature Canadian ingredients and environmentally-friendly packaging

Relatives of pedestrian struck in 2001 urge change after latest fatality at the intersection

‘I don’t know what the solution is, but I just think something needs to be done’

Whitehorse officials promise improvements to cycling routes

Commuters say more focus on the downtown is needed

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World

Arctic Sports Inter-School Championship draws athletes from as far as Juneau

The three-day event included more than 300 participants from kindergarten to Grade 12

Access road to Telegraph Creek now open

Ministry has spent $300K to date on work to clear rockslide

Freedom Trails responds to lawsuit

A statement of defence was to the Yukon Supreme Court on Nov. 19.

Whitehorse RCMP seeking suspects after robbery at Yukon Inn

Robbery took place in early hours of Nov. 27, with suspects armed with a knife and “large stick”

Yukonomist: Your yogurt container’s dirty secret

You should still recycle, but recycling one might be giving you a false sense of environmental virtue

History Hunter: New book tells old story of nursing in the Yukon

Author Amy Wilson was a registered nurse in the Yukon from 1949 to 1951

Jack Hulland wins 2019 Yukon Elementary School Hockey Tournament

The one-day tournament featured nearly a dozen teams from Whitehorse, Dawson City and Teslin

City news, briefly

Some of the decisions that were made at the Nov. 25 Whitehorse city council meeting

Most Read