Women Debut in Olympic Ski Jumping

Currently, the sights of millions of people around the world are focused on Sochi, where Russia’s first Olympic Winter Games are taking place. Some of the most exciting aspects at the Games are the ultra-modern sports venues and the new records to be witnessed. History is also being made at this year’s Winter Olympics because for the first time since the Olympics began in 1924, women will compete in the previously men’s only ski jumping event. They will compete on Tuesday, Feb. 11 in the Ladies’ Normal Hill Individual Event and people everywhere are hopeful for the success of this event to further prove its importance and mark its permanence in the Games for years to come. However, getting the green light was no small feat

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The fight began with a lawsuit brought up by 15 women against the International Olympic Committee to have Ski Jumping added to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The IOC denied women’s request to participate in the games because of several reasons including a lack of numerical backing and medical reasons. Women’s ski jumping failed to meet the requirement of having at least two world championship events. It was also determined that the number of potential competitors was too small, even though they had more competitors from more countries competing at the highest level than several other women’s Olympic sports. The medical dispute involved the jumps being too harsh on women’s reproductive systems. Critics went wild about this claim because of the number of sports women already compete in, all of which could be considered dangerous to both genders.

Finally in 2011 however, the IOC surrendered and approved for women’s ski jumping to be added in Sochi. Although some of the original women who started the movement years before the lawsuit have now retired, some of the women who participated are able to see the change they made and actually compete. One of these women is 29-year-old American jumper, Lindsey Van, who will be competing in this year’s winter Olympics. Of the other women representing the USA as part of Olympic History are Sarah Hendrickson, 19, and Jessica Jerome, 26.

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Although a step in the right direction, it is believed that there is still work to be done. This year’s women’s ski jumping event will only include a low hill jump. Women will still not jump in a team event or on the large hill during the Olympics.  Also, an event called Nordic combined consisting of cross-country skiing and jumping still does not allow women to participate. Despite these continued limitations, the groundbreaking inclusion of women’s ski jumping is both an advancement for the games and for women as a whole. Far too commonly women are considered porcelain dolls, very easily broken, based off ancient and outdated ideals. Yet year after year, women prove their strengths and ability to compete in all the sports that men do. Some even prove they can hold their own against men as well.  So with that I say, “This is one small jump for woman, one giant jump for womankind.”

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