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Women Ski Jumpers Seek Olympic Status


The 2006 Winter Olympics open Friday in Turin, Italy. Many winter sports involve breathtaking speeds, collisions and impacts that carry the possibility of very serious injury. In fact, one of the events is considered to be so risky that certain athletes are not allowed to participate. But as VOA's Peter Fedynsky reports, those athletes consider the ban to be unfair.

The International Ski Federation says that the landing after a ski jump involves a shock similar to dropping to the ground from about two meters. The Federation says it is not medically appropriate for women to do that repeatedly.

Women like Alissa Johnson do just that. "It's cool to see a guy jump far and jump well, but it's much cooler to see a girl do it. It really is." Because? "Cuz it's not expected."

This is the world's top women's ski jumping team. Americans Jessica Jerome and Lindsay Van both enjoy top world rankings and both have Olympic ambitions. "We could all win a gold medal!"

Ms. Johnson adds, "On any given day!"

In fact, these women often score higher than male Olympic jumpers, including Anders Johnson, Allisa's 16-year-old brother, who admits his older sister is the better athlete. "Come on! Just because I'm a woman, I don't get to do these things."

These young ladies are undaunted. Describing the jump, "You go and then you fly. We've beaten the boys. We can do it."

Women showed they could compete in a dangerous winter sport when women's bobsledding first became an Olympic event just four years ago at the Salt Lake City games. Women ski jumpers hope to become Olympians by the next Winter games in Vancouver in 2010.