Category Archives: Ski Jumping

The Most Important Event at Sochi’s Games

Gorki“The stars seemed near enough to touch and never before have I seen so many. I always believed the lure of flying is the lure of beauty, but I was sure of it that night.” – Amelia Earhart

When someone asks me which event(s) I recommend watching during an Olympic Games, my typical response is, “Watch all  of  it!”  Yes, I still stand by this.  As a fanatic I believe that all of the Olympics are worth watching.  However,  if one isn’t going to tune in for all of the competition, I can say without doubt that there is one event in Sochi worthy of everyone’s attention:  Women’s ski jumping.

Back in 2010 I wrote a lengthy commentary on gender bias in Olympic sports, focusing on the ridiculous and inexcusable exclusion of women’s ski jumping from the Olympics.  The fact that in the 21st Century women’s

Pioneer and Olympian Lindsey Van (Photo:  WSJ-USA)

Pioneer and Olympian Lindsey Van (Photo: WSJ-USA)

ski jumping still wasn’t a part of the Olympic Games….Well, I still can’t wrap my head around it.  Yet thankfully with all the tireless efforts of athletes, coaches, and various sponsors, women are finally getting their opportunity to compete in Olympic ski jumping.  The historical event will begin tomorrow (Tuesday), February 11 with the normal hill  competition.  Pioneers like Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome who fought tirelessly for equality and inclusion in the Olympics are finally seeing the fruits of their labor.  And compared to what they’ve endured over the years to earn their place in the Olympics, launching off a 70-meter hill might be less daunting.

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Women ski jumpers will finally have an Olympic podium. (Stanko Gruden/Agence Zoom/Getty Images Europe)

As a child I was inspired by the story of Amelia Earhart.  The tales of her courageous adventurous spirit and her belief in gender equality helped make me who I am today.  How many young girls out there have been–and will be–inspired by Lindsey Van Jessica Jerome, or Sara Takanashi?  How many of them watching this week will be encouraged by these athletes’ bold determination, mesmerized as they watch them soar through the air under a Sochi evening sky? Regardless of who will be standing on the podium tomorrow night, all of Sochi’s female jumpers deserve role model status.  Their dogged determination, conviction, and bravery is to be celebrated. Their gallantry deserves the gratitude of all women, old and young.

There will be other memorable stirring moments in these Olympics.  But tomorrow night when the first and last jumpers speed down the hill and launch themselves into the frosty air, history will be made.  And to all of them, I say: Thanks.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Jerome Headed for Hall of Fame–Are Olympics Next?

Women’s ski jumping might not yet be in the Olympics (decision is still pending), but it continues to gain respect.  For the second year in a row, the American Ski Jumping Hall of Fame (ASJHF) has included a female in its list of athletes for its December induction.  Congratulations to Jessica Jerome for being selected as an inductee this year!

AP Photo

The full press release of Jerome’s selection and ceremony details can be found at the Women’s Ski Jumping USA page.

Typically an athlete is inducted into his or her sport’s halls of fame after a lengthy career and numerous medals, which often  includes a gold, silver, or bronze from the Olympics.  Yet for Jerome, her hall of fame induction is coming first without any Olympic medal hung around her neck.  While Jerome is a veteran ski jumper with numerous victories, she still has not been allowed to compete in the Olympics.

A decision on whether female jumpers will be allowed to compete in the 2014 Games is pending, with a decision coming in March or April 2011.  Until it gains acceptance by all, the ladies will continue to need funding to cover training and travel costs.  Unlike their male counterparts in the sport, they do not receive funding from the US Ski & Snowboard Association.

Congrats again to Jessica, who truly embodies the Olympic motto:

Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

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Women’s Ski Jumping Approved? Well, Sort of….

It wasn’t the worst news that supporters of women’s ski jumping could have received.  It wasn’t the best, either.  In a statement released yesterday, the IOC stated that it looked “favorably” on women’s ski jumping being added to the 2014 Olympics, but that a final decision would not be made until after the world championships next year.   Yet again, women’s ski jumping has not been given a final clearance for take-off.  But it is the most promising news the sport has received, and as jumper Lindsey Van told USA Today, “They didn’t say no, so we’re headed in the right direction.” (Click here for the article.)

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Important Decisions for IOC in Acapulco

Today the IOC began a three-day meeting in Acapulco, Mexico.  Aside from the palm trees, azure waters, and warm sun, IOC officials have some important issues to discuss.  Ironically, while they are all gathered in a sunny, tropical destination, they will be voting on issues concerning sporting events which are hoping for inclusion in frigid snow-covered host cities, beginning in 2014.

The IOC could create an American Idol-style show for IOC Committee results and I’d watch.  I can imagine ESPN or NBC hosting the show, with Bob Costas or Rod Black as the emcee.  They’d revel in keeping the audience enticed:

“And, now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  Will women’s ski jumping be included in the 2014 Winter Olympics, held in Sochi, Russia?  We’ll find out…right after the break.”
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Women’s Ski Jumping Event: You’re Invited!

Earlier this summer there was some promising news for women’s ski jumping.  On June 9, the FIS voted to create a women’s ski jumping World Cup circuit beginning in 2011-2012.   The jumpers still haven’t gained access to the Olympics, though, and the expenses for travel and competition is scarce for American female jumpers.

Please read the exciting press release below from Women’s Ski Jumping USA:

Press Release from Women’s Ski Jumping USA:

“Join the Journey NYC” for equality in sport on Oct. 21

American Lindsey Van has launched off ski jumps more than 20,000 times — often going the length of two football fields. In 2009, she became the first women’s world champion of ski jumping. But she didn’t compete in the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver to fulfill a life-long dream. It wasn’t because of scandal or drugs. It was because she’s a woman.

Ski jumping is the only discipline in the Summer and Winter Games in which the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not allow women to compete. The women were told everything from “ski jumping is bad for women’s bodies from a medical point of view” to women’s ski jumping “lacks universality.”

In 2009, 15 brave women ski jumpers from all over the world stood up to the old-guard Olympic establishment and took their gender-discrimination case to the British Columbia Supreme Court, which — along with the BC Court of Appeal — ruled that the IOC was indeed discriminating against women purely because of their gender. The IOC still refused to let them jump in 2010, but the court’s position, overwhelming media attention and support from the global public resulted in significant progress toward women being added to the Sochi 2014 Games. But perhaps more importantly, these women and their supporters are making huge strides for equality in sport.

Despite all they’ve been through, these women still dream of being Olympians and they vow to continue to fight to be part of the biggest sporting stage in the world. The U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team, ranked second internationally, is asking for help in their journey to fulfill their dreams. Their story has been told and supported by countless media outlets and organizations such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Vancouver Sun, Wall Street Journal, London Times, Christian Science Monitor, ESPN, MSNBC, BBC, ABC Women’s Sports Foundation and National Organization for Women. (See stories at www.wsjusa.com).

New York-based photographer Jamie Clyde heard their story and knew she wanted to help. Clyde artistically photographed members of the U.S. team and has organized and sponsored a special gallery auction and fundraiser for the team on Oct. 21, 2010 in Brooklyn, New York. The event is supported by Women’s Ski Jumping USA, a 501 (c) (3) foundation, based in Park City, Utah.

Money raised from the benefit will pay for the women’s coach, travel expenses for international competitions, training, equipment and junior developmental programs for young girls. The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association doesn’t financially support the team.

This current fight for equality in sport is reminiscent of the women marathoners who struggled for years to participate in the Olympic Games. They too were told their bodies couldn’t handle the athletic stress. They too were told they weren’t ready. But they endured and won the right to compete for the first time in the marathon in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Summer Games. This precedent 25 years ago gives the women ski jumpers hope and helps them keep their own Olympic dreams alive.

WHAT:
Join the Journey New York City, a benefit for the
U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team

WHEN:
6-10 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 21

WHERE: The Dumbo Loft, 155 Water Street
Brooklyn, New York   11201

WHY:
Raise money to help the team continue to train and compete in preparation for the 2011
World  Championships and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

FEATURES:

  • Meet the members of the U.S. women’s Ski jumping team
  • Silent and live auction
  • Open top shelf bar, plus gourmet samplings from NYC’s best restaurants
  • DJ and live music
  • View trailer for film documentary on the jumpers – to be released Fall of 2011!


EVENT MC:
Comedian Amy Wasserman of the “Last Comic Standing”


COST:
$250 per person – purchase online at www.wsjusa.com, beginning Sept. 1, 2010 or call 646-515-5204.
Sponsorship opportunities also available.

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Promising News for Women’s Ski Jumping!

Women’s Ski Jumping USA just posted some promising news!  Click here to read about this announcement.

These qualified athletes still haven’t been allowed to compete in the Olympics, but today’s news makes me hopeful that such a wrongful exclusion will soon be corrected.

Don’t forget that female jumpers are still in urgent need of funding and support.  More information on how to help can be found here.

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Women’s Ski Jumping: What Would Coubertin Do?

Thanks to Lindsey Van and the representatives from Women’s Ski Jumping USA for their time and information provided for this post.

At the recent Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, Simon Ammann won the gold medal in both the normal and large hill events of men’s ski jumping.  However, prior to the Games, neither Amman nor his fellow male jumpers held the record for distance jumped on the normal hill at Whistler Ski Jump.  That record was held by a woman, American Lindsey Van, who was not allowed to compete.

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