Women’s Ski Jumping Takes Off After 2014 Winter Olympics
By Melissa Hilton

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

This quote by Mahatma Ghandi summarizes the U.S. Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team’s struggle of the last several years. Their rocky road of discrimination, lawsuits and irrational resistance to participation in Olympic competition led to a partial inclusion in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. There is still more work to be done.

48bWomen have always flown high and long off ski jumps, right beside their male counterparts. However, until last year, they were excluded from participation in the Olympics. The elite female athletes who bravely battled the old school, patriarchal International Olympic Committee embody everything their sport represents: bold ambition, unwavering conviction, steely confidence, and an intense controlled passion that fuels performance. They are now historic icons of the movement toward women’s equality in all areas.

“Now that our jumpers can soar all the way to the pinnacle of winter sports competition, we will be focused on working with our local jump sites across the U.S. to develop consistent coaching standards and to build our athlete pipeline,” said head coach Alan Alborn. “We will also continue to support our highly talented national team and work hard to sustain our position as a global leader in women’s Nordic ski jumping.”

With new travel coach, Vasja Bajc, the women will compete in the 2015 World Championship in Falun, Sweden, an event they have previously won and hope to repeat. Bajc, a native Slovenian and former ski jumper with over 25 years of international ski jump coaching under his belt, was brought in to round out the already rock solid coaching staff and to infuse a new level of motivation and enthusiasm to the women jumpers. With less than four years to the next Winter Olympics in Korea, Bajc’s experience coaching champion ski jumpers will be indispensible.

Bajc also has extensive experience in developing young athletes and organizing national ski jumping camps, which will benefit not only the national women’s team, but the nascent Fly Girls program. Executive Director Melissa Brooke said, “We launched our Fly Girls training program last summer, which allowed 13-16 year old jumpers from around the country to train with our national team in Park City. Not only will this provide up-and-coming athletes with the tools and training needed to improve their performance, it will also foster a supportive community for our younger jumpers.” Fly Girls training will be held annually with the intention that it will feed the team with the nation’s most promising female jumping talent.

The story of the U.S. Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team is a textbook demonstration of the grit and ingenuity that has made so many underdogs great. You can support them by donating to their cause of 100% inclusion in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea by going to www.sjusa.com.

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