Thirty women from 12 countries soared into the history books Tuesday night during an impressive Olympic debut of women’s ski jumping at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center, a marquee event of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. The depth of talent in the field yielded an intense battle with eight different nations in the top 10, six athletes jumping over 100 meters, and the top three separated by only 2.2 points with Germany’s Carina Vogt becoming the first-ever gold medalist. Jessica Jerome led the results for Team USA in 10th, while Lindsey Van (Park City, UT) and Sarah Hendrickson (Park City, UT) finished 15th and 21st respectively. The inaugural women’s event airs on NBC during its primetime Olympic special Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. EST and can be replayed in its entirety onNBCOlympics.com.
(l-r) Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson, Lindsey Van. 2014 Olympic Women’s Ski Jumping Team. Photo: Sarah Brunson/U.S. Ski Team
Photo: Sarah Brunson U.S. Ski Team / Olympian Ski Jumper Lindsey Van taking home 15th place in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Photo: @jessicajerome / @Libertymutal | An inspirational instagram shot posted by Jessica on women’s ski jumping as a new Olympic game.
Tonight was a lot of fun. I didn’t perform to my best ability, but I’m still happy, strangely; I think everyone is. All the girls from all the countries are just smiling. There is a special camaraderie that all of us girls have from all the countries and I really felt it tonight. We were up there high-fiving with the Norwegians and the Fins and the Canadian girls, and everybody was just really glad to be sharing this with not only their competitors but their friends, someone who gets what we’ve been trying to do.
I don’t want to seem complacent because of course I know if I had done what I was doing a week and a half ago in Park City, I would have been up there on the medals, but it just didn’t happen for me today. It’s unfortunate, but just being able to be here and to share this with all of my friends and competitors–that’s a really awesome consolation prize.
We showed the world really what we’ve been training hard for. The level was absolutely out of this world, and I think the fact that Sara Takanashi did not win shows how hard it is to win a medal here. That makes me smile because I think a lot of people expected to watch and not see that high level, but we proved them wrong. We showed that we’ve been training hard for this and we were beyond ready to have this debut.
The depth is amazing. We’ve had an increase of 20 girls each season. We have 70 girls showing up to World Cups now and that’s extraordinary. So to have that cut down to 30 shows that it’s really a tough competition.
It was a great experience. There was a lot of emotion coming into it, a lot of emotion at the time. I feel way better now and more relieved than I have my whole career. It actually feels for the first time in my life that I’m living now and not talking about what I’m going to do. That in itself is a relief and makes me extremely happy.
I didn’t even really think about the history and the fight to get here. I’m here and that’s all I really care about. I’m going forward, our sport is going forward and it’s never going to be the same. We can call ourselves Olympians now. I couldn’t do that yesterday.