You may be counting the days until the flowers bloom again and the smell of spring fills the air, but a select few are thinking much further ahead. We’re halfway to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the games are already heating up. The athletes are training. The coaches are strategizing. And for women ski jumpers, the uphill battle to fly down the biggest of hills has finally gone their way.
“It’s been so many years and such a long, incredible journey to get women’s ski jumping into the Olympic games,” says Deedee Corradini, president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA. “We’re ready.”
A long journey, indeed; while men’s ski jumping is an original Winter Olympics event, women have never been able to leap for gold. In fact, until this past April when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the inclusion of a women’s event in the 2014 Games, ski jumping was the last Winter Olympic sport women couldn’t compete in.
“They [the IOC] kept finding reasons to not include us, but we never gave up,” says Lindsey Van, the 2009 women’s world champion.
Now they’ll leap at the chance to show off their incredible skills across the globe. People from Louisville to Ljubljana will be able to admire the technical skill and artistry of these women as they ski down a ramp at fifty-five to sixty mph, timing their takeoff at the base, trying to land as far as possible down the hill with grace and aplomb. All in the hope of earning the maximum number of points based upon distance and style.
At its very core, ski jumping is about flying through the air with what appears to be the greatest of ease.
“You know the feeling when you stick your hand out the car window at sixty miles per hours and it feels like you’re playing with the wind?” says Van. “Ski jumping is like that with your whole body.”
And while it may have taken the IOC years to notice, they’re certainly not wrong about one thing: There is a level of depth now that makes the sport ultracompetitive across the globe.
And so, after years of politicking, lobbying, and lawsuits, the struggle is over. In fact, the Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team triumph to be included in the Olympics was so impressive, the Women’s Sports Foundation awarded them the prestigious Wilma Rudolph Courage Award in October. And when the first woman soars through the Russian sky in 2014, the world will be witnessing equality in flight.
Here are some of the names to watch for as we look toward Sochi:
*Jessica Jerome (USA):
Eight-time national champion. “She has incredible talent and determination,” says Van. “She really loves this sport from her heart.”
*Sarah Hendrickson (USA):
Only seventeen, her best days are clearly ahead of her. “She’s a future star,” says Corradini.
Daniela Iraschko (AUS):
“She does everything pretty damn good these days,” says Van.
Annette Sagen: (NOR):
The current No. 1 ski jumper in the world.
Five members of the USA Women’s Ski Jumping Team dressed in vintage skiwear for a promotional photo. The vintage theme reflects the heritage of their sport and looks forward to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
*source Ralph Lauren Magazine