Scott: You guys know ski jumping, right? Where a skier speeds down a huge ramp and then leaps into the air, like, 200 feet in that…, right?…exhilarating sport! But this year, it is also history-making. And Shelby Holliday explains.
Shelby: This week, women ski jumpers soared in the Olympics for the very first time.
How big of a deal is it to you to have this event in the Olympics?
Lindsey Van: It’s a huge deal to be in the Olympics. Men’s ski jumping has been in the Olympics since 1924. Women have been jumping the entire time.
Shelby: Athletes like Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome have been competing around the world for years. But it has been a long road to the Olympics. After years of pushing for a chance to compete, they teamed up with twelve women from five countries to sue the Vancouver organizing committee ahead of the 2010 Winter Games. The group won the discrimination lawsuit, but it didn’t seem to matter.
Athlete: It’s pure disappointment.
Shelby: Met with fierce resistance from the International Olympic Committee, female ski jumpers were shut out of the Olympics once again.
Van: Because they’re a private entity ruled by nobody. So they can do whatever, go wherever.
Shelby: Ironically, Lindsey Van held the normal hill Vancouver record for both men and women that year, a jump that would have landed her a spot on the men’s Olympic podium.
Athlete: I was just absolutely shocked.
Shelby: Deedee Corradini, the president of U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping, led the fight against the IOC. She says women may have been seen as a threat because they are lighter and can fly farther.
Deedee Corradini: We were given many reasons, excuses, including ‘you don’t have enough women jumping at the elite level or enough countries participating to justify being an Olympic sport.’
Shelby: Whatever the reasons, the women didn’t back down. And finally in 2011, the IOC changed its rules to allow women’s ski jumping in Sochi.
Van: It felt like someone said, ‘No, you can’t’. I said, ‘Yes, I can. Watch’.
Jerome: Knowing that it was a possibility to make it an Olympic dream didn’t happen until a couple years ago.
Shelby: In their first Olympic jump ever, the three skiers from Team USA landed too short for the podium. But just competing in Sochi was a victory. And now any girl who wants to fly has a shot at being an Olympian.
Van: The fact that we’re added ninety years later to the first Olympics, it’s really quite amazing that we’re there. It’s about time and I’m really excited.
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.
Scott: Women in the ski jumping event is a big deal, but there is still progress to be made. While men have three ski jumping events, women can only compete in one. So the fight for more events is already underway for the next Winter Games.