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Misogynistic and demeaning PA announcements cast a shadow on Iowa City cyclo-cross festival

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Three-time U.S. cyclo-cross national champion Jeremy Powers clears Mt. Krumpit at Johnson County Fairgrounds during the 2016 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup. — Matthew Steele/Little Village

The big news out of last week’s Jingle Cross Cyclo-Cross festival — an Iowa City event that has featured Telenet UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup races for the past three years in a row — should have been that Iowa City is the only three-time host of World Cup races in all of North America. Instead, that was overshadowed by insulting, sexist remarks made by the World Cup race announcers.

On Sunday, Lindsay Knight, a veteran cyclo-cross racer from Chicago who participated in the women’s World Cup races, published a long post on Instagram about her Iowa City experience. “Well, @jinglecross it’s been an interesting weekend,” she began.

After praising the other women who participated in Jingle Cross and the World Cup — “You are fierce competition, and a phenomenal community to be a part of.” — Knight discussed the announcers and the atmosphere they created.

Over the past three days, I — and countless other women in the 1/2s race — have been told to smile, look “like we’re having fun”, been referred to as “the wives having a miserable time”, and (today) told that we can “limp through our last two laps.” During other parts of the day, we’ve heard inappropriate comments about how “the *fun* stuff at the bar happens in the dark with too much alcohol,” and how “the moms can just calm down ‘cause their husbands will be done racing in 5 mins.” While working the pits for my partner, I was mocked and demeaned over the loud speakers by announcers who said “that’s what you get when a girlfriend pits for you.”

Knight’s comments immediately attracted widespread attention throughout the American cycling community, because she is well-known cyclo-cross competitor. In 2016, Cycling Tips profiled Knight, who holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago, as a part of series on “women trail blazers in the sport and industry of cycling.”

View this post on Instagram

Well, @jinglecross it’s been an interesting weekend. First, and most importantly, to the women of the CX scene: You are all incredible. You are fierce competition, and a phenomenal community to be apart of. Second, the atmosphere and tone set by the #jinglecx announcers did a HUGE disservice to that community. Over the past three days, I — and countless other women in the 1/2s race — have been told to smile, look “like we’re having fun”, been referred to as “the wives having a miserable time”, and (today) told that we can “limp through our last two laps.” During other parts of the day, we’ve heard inappropriate comments about how “the *fun* stuff at the bar happens in the dark with too much alcohol,” and how “the moms can just calm down ‘cause their husbands will be done racing in 5 mins.” While working the pits for my partner, I was mocked and demeaned over the loud speakers by announcers who said “that’s what you get when a girlfriend pits for you.” …and I sincerely doubt they meant a person who provides meticulous support, and who can tell psi by feel. I really don’t know what else to say about all of this, except that in conjunction with this week in politics, #timesup. I don’t intend to put up with shit like this anymore, and nor do the other women who pour their hearts and energies into this side of their lives. This course has been my favorite for a number of years. But honestly, if another woman asked me if they should make the trek to this race next year, I’d have to said ‘No. Not worth the bullshit.’ C’mon @usacycling you can find better announcers that the goons you had this weekend. 📸 @gvngld

A post shared by Lindsay Knight (@lindsay_h_knight) on

Larry Longo and Brad Sohner were the announcers for the Jingle Cross festival, and Longo was the one who made the remarks Knight cited, according to several sites specializing in cycling news. Both men are reportedly freelance commentators, neither from the Iowa City area.

In an interview on Monday with Cyclocross Magazine, Knight expanded on her Instagram post.

“These comments weren’t tone deaf — they were misogynistic,” Knight said. “And frankly, with the past week of political debate and discourse around the Supreme Court hearings, I sincerely do not know how any sentient adult in this country, male or female, can plead ignorance over comments that are meant to degrade and objectify women. The comments weren’t innocent and misunderstood, they were said with the intent to demean and make the women athletes in those fields feel lesser.”

In response to questions from Cyclocross Magazine, Jingle Cross Director John Meehan, issued a statement on Monday.

We are aware of offensive remarks made by one of our PA announcers at the Jingle Cross event this weekend in Iowa City. The individual who made the remarks was hired as in independent contractor by us, Jingle Cross, Inc. to serve as the live commentator during all USA Cycling and UCI race events.

The remarks were in poor taste and offensive. They do not align with the ideals of Jingle Cross, our staff, management, or the hundreds of volunteers that help us create this incredible event. The announcer has been notified of the issues and the matter has been handled accordingly. He has been informed that he will no longer be a race announcer at Jingle Cross. We regret this incident and apologize to our riders, spectators, fans, and guests.

Sohner apologized on Twitter for “not doing more to stop the inappropriate comments made by my partner.”

Longo has not yet made any public comments about Jingle Cross.

Jingle Cross, with races featuring cyclists at a variety of levels, has been held annually at the Johnson County Fairgrounds since 2003. The three-day festival also featured music, beer and family-friendly activities. This year it introduced a “wine walk.”

For the past three years, the festival has also incorporated World Cup races sanctioned by the Switzerland-based Union Cycliste Internationale, the international governing body for the sport of cyclo-cross, in which cyclists race on off-road courses that provide a series of challenging surfaces (often mud or sand) and multiple obstacles.


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One thought on “Misogynistic and demeaning PA announcements cast a shadow on Iowa City cyclo-cross festival

  1. Seems to me Sohner should also be fired. If he couldn’t have stopped Longo, why not at least let the sponsors know?

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