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  • Womens Ski Jumping Makes Olympic Debut


    Lindsey Van talks about the event (ATR)
    (ATR) Female ski jumpers moved the Olympics closer to gender equality with their first jumps for medals at the Sochi Winter Games.

    While men have been ski jumping since the Winter Olympics began in 1924, women were denied entry until they could prove they had the talent and the depth to compete. They lost a lawsuit seeking admission prior to the Vancouver Olympics.

    “I didn’t even really think about the history and the fight to get here,” said 29-year-old Lindsey Van of the U.S., the first female world champion in the sport in 2009 and an ardent champion for its inclusion in the Olympics.

    “I’m here and that’s all I really care about. I’m going forward and our sport is going forward and it’s never going to be the same. We can call ourselves Olympians now and I couldn’t do that yesterday.”

    Carine Vogt of Germany will go down in the record books as the first woman to win a gold medal in the event. She scored 247.4 points.

    Fellow Europeans Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria (246.2) won the silver and Coline Mattel of France (245.20) won the bronze. Vogt posted the longest jump of the first round at 103 meters. Thanks to her style points, she held on for the win even though Iraschko-Stolz soared 104.5 meters on her second attempt.

    “The first seconds were just terrible for me until the result was on the wall,” Vogt said.

    Blair Tomten, a former ski jumper, commemorated the moment (ATR)
    Pre-event favorite Sara Takanashi of Japan, who had demonstrated impressive consistency throughout the World Cup season, was fourth. Sarah Hendrickson, the reigning world champion from the U.S., finished 21st after coming back from summer knee surgery.

    The stands at RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center, which seat 7,500, were nearly full. Many people watched from the railing when they weren’t busy taking photographs with the ski jumping hills in the background or with the Sochi bunny, the only one of the three Olympic mascots that is female.

    There was one rather sexist moment when the announcer introduced a Russian song by saying, “Every part of women’s body is very beautiful, but the most beautiful part of women’s body are legs.”

    Four years ago, Deedee Corradini, the former mayor of Salt Lake City and president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, and two female ski jumpers went to Vancouver. They handed out 500 pins that showed a ski jumper with a ponytail and said “Sochi 2014.”

    “I have to pinch myself because we’ve been working for so long for this that it’s hard to believe it’s really here,” Corradini told Around the Rings before the competition. “I should say this is a dream come true because it’s been a dream for so long. This has been 10 years in the making and we’re here.”

    Deedee Corradini fought for women to become Olympic ski jumpers (ATR)
    Hendrickson was the first to soar. She originally wasn’t thrilled with bib No. 1, which she got because she was rehabilitating while everyone else was earning World Cup points.

    “I’m used to being among the last ones,” Hendrickson said. “But then someone was like, ‘Well, no, you’re the first girl ever to jump in the Olympics and I kind of took that and ran with it because it’s a pretty cool thing.

    “It’s an honor to open up the competition to these amazing 29 girls behind me because I think we put on an awesome show tonight and the world really saw what we’ve been working for.”

    But their fight is not over. The men also compete on the large hill and have a team event and the women see no reason why they shouldn't have the same medal chances.

    Written by Karen Rosen

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