Lindsey Van, of Park City, Utah, is the reigning world champion of women’s ski jumping. On Friday, Feb. 25 she will compete in the 2011 World Ski Jumping Championships in Oslo, Norway.
Women’s Ski Jumping is the only discipline in the Olympic Winter or Summer Games that does not allow women to compete. After years of battling to finally be allowed to compete in the Games, the International Olympic Committee has said it is “looking favorably” at adding a women’s ski jumping event to the Sochi 2014 Games. A decision will be announced this spring.
Filmmaker William Kerig is producing a documentary feature film — Ready To Fly — about Lindsey and her teammates’ fight to be Olympians. It is set to be released in September 2011. Learn more at http://www.readytoflyfilm.com.
How will this Nordic World Ski Championships (the second ever to allow women to ski jump) be different than the first one in Liberec in 2009?
Because it will be in a country (Norway) that is much more in support of Nordic events, like ski jumping. Hundreds of thousands of people will be there to watch. Our U.S. team is strong and prepared. We – along with our fellow women ski jumpers from around the world — are ready to put on a great show.
Is the field of women jumpers strong for this World Championships? There were 36 jumpers from 13 nations in 2009 – what do you expect this time?
I do think it’s a strong and well-prepared group of athletes. There will be close to 50 competitors from about 16 countries I think. There are less competitors than on the Continental Cup because countries can only send up to four athletes – or they could only elect to send one or two.
What’s your goal for this World Championships – do you feel the pressure to win like in 2009?
I honestly don’t have a goal for this World Championships. I just want to have two good and competitive jumps. Right now I don’t feel a lot of pressure. That comes from inside and I’ve taken that off myself and I don’t expect anything. Of course I want to be in the top three, so if it goes well, I’ll be psyched.
Do you feel that there is a lot riding on this competition for women’s ski jumping given that the International Olympic Committee says it will be watching and will make a decision this spring about adding a women’s event to Sochi 2014?
Honestly, I think our sport will be just fine if IOC is looking for a good competition. I don’t think I have to perform extra good for myself or for IOC. I think they may have already made up their mind about us, but wanted more time to look at the other new sports they are considering as well. Worst-case scenario is that we don’t get in Sochi 2014 – we’re status quo – and so we just keep going.
Why did you take last year off from international competition and what did you do?
I was mentally and physically tired and had some injuries and decided to separate myself from the political side of ski jumping and take step back and re-evaluate my desire to ski jump. I had a lot of free time. I skied a lot and rested and went to Hawaii.
If women ski jumpers get in the 2014 Games, will you stick around to compete?
Time will only tell. I don’t know. I want to keep ski jumping as long as it’s fun and if my body allows. I’ll be 29 and the average age of ski jumpers is mid-to-late 20s and is getting older.
You do some coaching and talking to young ski jumpers. What do you tell them about the sport and their future? What’s your advice?
I try not to talk about the future. I try to tell them to have fun and not think too far ahead — you’ve got to enjoy what you are doing now. They don’t need to think about money or the Olympics or any of that. They just need to live in the moment and have fun — which is, I guess, what I’m doing now.
CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT HER DOCUMENTARY
World Champion’s Fight to Become Olympian
Since childhood, as a wide-eyed 7-year-old ski jumper with a dream of Olympic flight, Lindsey Van was an outsider in a man’s world. Eighteen years later, despite the fact that she jumps as well as (and sometimes better than) the world’s best men, she’s still locked out of the Olympic athlete club.
Why? Because she’s a woman.
Ski jumping remains the only discipline in the Olympic Winter Games that allows men to compete but not women. But this hasn’t stopped Lindsey Van, the reigning World Champion, from pursuing her dreams.
Filming Lindsey and her teammates as they overcome challenges, break records and fight for their place in sport history is writer, producer, and director William A. Kerig and the production team of “Ready To Fly.” The documentary feature film will be released theatrically in the fall of 2011 and tells the triumphant story of Lindsey, who sets out to conquer the world, only to have it line up against her.
This inspiring tale shows the unlikely family of supporters that rallies behind a young athlete as she reluctantly becomes the spokesperson for gender equality in sport. She hits roadblock after roadblock and then quits. But in her year off from competition, she changes. Maybe it’s a realization that she can change things for the young women who will come behind her, maybe it’s the joy of flight that she’s missing, or maybe it’s her fighting nature that won’t allow her to quit.
On Feb. 25, Lindsey will fly again, head first into the fray at the 2011 World Ski Jumping Championships in Oslo, Norway. Based on how she and her peers perform, the International Olympic Committee will decide if women are finally ready to fly at the world’s highest levels.
For Kerig, director of 2009’s “The Edge of Never”, this project is personal. “I have an 8-year-old daughter who’s just begun ski jumping,” he said. “Whether she sticks with it or not, I hope she never is denied the chance to pursue her dreams, merely because she’s a girl.”
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CLICK HERE TO READ Q&A WITH LINDSEY VAN