VIENNA — American alpine ski star Lindsey Vonn's request to race against the men at a World Cup event was on Saturday refused by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Skiing's governing body did however offer her an olive branch by offering her the chance to race as a 'forerunner'.

Last month Vonn, women's downhill champion in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, expressed interest in taking on the the men at the Lake Louise meet in the United States on November 24.

But after discussing her proposal the FIS said: "The Council respected Lindsey Vonn's proposal to participate in men's World Cup races and confirmed that one gender is not entitled to participate in races of the other and exceptions will not be made to the FIS Rules.

"In terms of her request to participate in the men's downhill at Lake Louise, she is welcome to submit a request to the Organising Committee and jury to be a forerunner."

A forerunner is timed in exactly the same manner as an actual competitor, so if Vonn accepts the offer her run will attract widespread attention as a side interest both within the sport and beyond.

Vonn dismissed talk last week that her campaign to race against men was a mere public relations stunt.

"It's a serious wish on my part. I already discussed this a few years ago with my coaches and friends," Vonn said at Soelden, Austria.

A precedent has already been set when female alpine skier Marlies Schild of Austria was a forerunner on home snow at a night-time slalom at Schladming in January 2012.

Schild's time would have put her in the top 30 in that men's race.

Another example of a woman taking on the men came in golf when Sweden's Annika Sorenstam took on the men at the PGA event at Fort Worth, Texas.