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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs