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Van looking to retain title and jump into Olympics

Van looking to retain title and jump into Olympics

Two years ago, Lindsey Van became the first women's world champion ski jumper. On Friday, the American will attempt to retain her title in Oslo and possibly qualify for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
"There's a bit more pressure this time for sure, but I think I can handle it," Van told The Associated Press.
Women ski jumpers have never been allowed to compete at the games, but the International Olympic Committee is looking favorably at the sport and will make a decision for Sochi based on Friday's event at the Nordic skiing world championships.
It's three years since Van and fellow Park City, Utah jumper Jessica Jerome first joined forces with a cluster of other top competitors to file a gender discrimination lawsuit in the Canadian courts against VANOC, the organizing committee for the Vancouver Games. The women lost _ the court said the IOC, not VANOC, was the only body authorized to make the call.
"It was tremendously heartbreaking," said Jerome. "All of us girls, from all the countries, worked hard and were just as deserving to be there as any other athlete."
Back in 2006, the International Ski Federation (FIS) had voted 114-1 in favor of recommending women's ski jumping as an Olympic sport. But the IOC stood its ground. A sport needed to have two worlds under its belt before joining the Olympic family, it said. Also, with too few competitors, women's ski jumping did not meet the necessary technical criteria.
But the women were able to point to previous examples of the IOC disregarding its own criteria. Skier cross and bobsled had fewer athletes, for instance, and the women's marathon was slipped into the 1984 Olympics after just one world championship.
"We asked a lot of questions and never really got any straight answers," said Jerome. "That's probably the most frustrating thing."
Angry though they both clearly still are, the jumpers said they were eager to put the disappointment behind them and focus on excelling in Oslo.
"I'm trying to keep my nose out of the political side of things," said Jerome. "My job is to jump far and to the best of my ability, not to get in the faces of the people at the IOC who make the decisions."
At 26 and 24, Van and Jerome are veterans of the sport. Jerome took first place at a Continental Cup in Rovaniemi and is in the form of her life. Van too is pleased with her season, but they both know they'll have to be at the top of their game to get among the medals.
Japanese 15-year-old Sara Takanashi landed a 102.5 meter jump in training on Wednesday on the Midtstubakken hill where the final will be held.
Elena Runggaldier of Italy and French competitor Coline Mattel also cleared 100 meters.
Daniela Iraschko has dominated the Continental Cup this season, but a knee injury means the Austrian won't know until Friday whether she can compete in the final.
"Our sport has definitely improved in every aspect," said Van. "I think when they look at it again it'll be at the standard they're looking for."
Cross-country and Nordic combined are also on the program in Oslo. Events run through March 6, but the women's ski jump will begin and end Friday at the city's famed Holmenkollen venue.


Updated : 2021-10-17 05:28 GMT+08:00