News / Europe

US Women's Ski Jumping Makes Olympic Debut

U.S. ski jumpers Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson and Lindsey Van speak to the media in Sochi, Feb. 10, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)
U.S. ski jumpers Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson and Lindsey Van speak to the media in Sochi, Feb. 10, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)
Parke Brewer
Women's ski jumping is set to make its Olympic debut at the Sochi Winter Games in Russia. 

It's been a long, hard battle, but the women will finally get to display their talents.
 
Men have been gliding down the long, steep slippery ramps and into the air above specially sloped landing hills since the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France in 1924.
 
In recent years, female ski jumpers had waged an ongoing battle to get their sport into the Games. They had petitioned to join every Winter Olympics since 1998 in Nagano, Japan.  
 
One of the problems was that in 1991 when the International Olympic Committee decided that all future sports had to be open to both males and females, the ruling did not apply to existing sports. And many thought ski jumping was too dangerous for women and that there were not enough competitors.
 
As recently as 2006, the IOC said it had nothing to do with discrimination.  It just did not believe that women had enough technical skills.

So a group of top women ski jumpers filed a suit in 2008. But they lost their bid to get their sport included in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  Four years later, they will officially take the stage.

Not only that, they will do it in dramatic fashion, vying for the gold medal under floodlights Tuesday night at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center in the mountains above Sochi.

U.S. ski jumpers Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson and Lindsey Van speak to the media in Sochi, Feb. 10, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)U.S. ski jumpers Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson and Lindsey Van speak to the media in Sochi, Feb. 10, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)
x
U.S. ski jumpers Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson and Lindsey Van speak to the media in Sochi, Feb. 10, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)
U.S. ski jumpers Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson and Lindsey Van speak to the media in Sochi, Feb. 10, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)
 The first world champion in the sport in 2009, American Lindsey Van, said now that the fight for inclusion is over, it's time for the fans to see what it's all about.  "You know I just want more people to see that women can ski jump. It's taken 90 years for women to be here, so check us out. I'm just thrilled to show ski jumping to the world and that women can do it too," she told reporters.
 
The undisputed favorite is Japan's Sara Takanashi, who is only 17 years old and stands just 150 centimeters tall. She has dominated the World Cup circuit over the past two seasons.  Reigning world champion, 19-year-old American Sarah Hendrickson who recently returned from a bad knee injury, admires how Takanashi deals with the expectations on her.
 
"I struggle with the pressure and how that affects my ski jumping and she just brushes it off like it's no problem, so I look up to her with that and the mental side of things. So I am expecting her to continue that through this event in Sochi and she's a very tough competitor," Hendrickson added.
 
For now, the women ski jumpers have only one event, the normal hill. American Jessica Jerome said she hopes they might eventually have three Olympic events like the men. "I know that with any new sport you are sort of taking baby steps and I really appreciate that we're here and that we have our one event," she explained. "And I really hope that in the future we have a big hill event and a team event."
 
At close to midnight Tuesday in Sochi, the first women's Olympic ski jump medalist will be crowned -- and make history.

Click here to see VOA's Winter Olympics site

Error rendering storify.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid