Russian star rips report describing female skiers’ ‘massive shoulders and thighs’
Russian cross-country skier Veronika Stepanova has challenged the New York Times after reading an article in the newspaper that claimed her sport features "so many women with massive shoulders and thighs" as part of its Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics coverage.
The 2021 FIS World Cup relay and World Junior Champion has been on prolific form on social media ahead of the most important race of her career when she represents the Russian Olympic Committee in the Women's 4x5km cross-country skiing relay final on Saturday.
In a video posted to her near-40,000 followers on Instagram, she checked out the Times' piece on US athlete Jessie Diggins winning the bronze medal in the individual sprint and filmed her reaction to one line that she clearly found particularly questionable.
"In a sport that has so many women with massive shoulders and thighs, Diggins looks like a sprite in her racing suit," Stepanova read from a tablet.
Turning to the camera with eyebrows raised, she then asked: "Seriously?"
The critique is the second time within days that Stepanova has made clear her dissatisfaction with some media descriptions of female bodies.
Referring to reports by unnamed sources earlier in the week, Stepanova mocked claims that she enjoys spending her spare time socializing, watching films and relaxing in hot countries, seeming to suggest that those descriptions make her life sound more decadent than it is.
"A separate question is who makes up the 'ratings of the most attractive athletes' in 2022?" she asked in that post.
"Will there also be a rating of the most beautiful male athletes, for gender balance?"
Stepanova came third in the sprint semifinals on Tuesday as Diggins finished second for the US behind Sweden's Emma Ribom.
Despite this, however, she clearly boasts no ill-feeling towards her opponent, who took home bronze behind a Swedish one-two completed by Jonna Sundling and Maja Dahlqvist for gold and silver in the final.
The Swedes are also among the favorites in the relay final after winning gold at Sochi 2014 and silver at Pyeongchang 2018, where Norway clinched top honors.
"Saturday is the biggest race of my modest career so far," Stepanova told her fans. "Thank you for your trust.
"As always, I will give everything I have on the track. What I don't have is excitement – sorry, I'm repeating myself.
I hope this will give me some – albeit a small – advantage. Excuse me, [but] advice – even the best – I do not need. Wish us luck and sit in front of your TVs and smartphones on Saturday."