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Film offers look at battle to get women's ski jumping included in the Winter Olympics

Published: Saturday, Feb. 11 2012 8:03 p.m. MST

(Left to right) Deedee Corradini, USA President of Women's Ski Jumping, and ski jumpers Lindsey Van and Abby Hughes are all smiles during a press conference celebrating the International Olympic Committee's decision to include women ski jumpers in the 2014 Sochi (Russia) Winter Games on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

PARK CITY — Lindsey Van allowed a smile to spread across her 7-year-old face as she gives voice to her childhood dream.

"My goal is to make the Olympic team, 2002, for girls," said Van with the kind of authority and charm that only a second-grader can muster.

But what the talented little girl didn't know is that it wouldn't be until nearly 10 years after her hometown hosted the 2002 Games that the sport would be accepted into the Olympic Games.

"Ready to Fly" is both a chronicle and a tribute to the efforts of women ski jumpers — and those who support them — to convince the IOC that anything men could do on skis, women could do too — and sometimes they do it better.

The message of the movie is summed up by Van's opening line on why the women didn't just sit quietly and wait for inclusion or give up and find another avenue to Olympic glory.

"If you love something then you don't ever, ever give up on it," said Van. "Because if you love it, then that's what you're there for, to do it."

The film premiers at several locations in Salt Lake City this weekend, including the Larry H. Miller Megaplex. The world premiere will be held at the Gateway Theaters Friday at 7 p.m.

The opening scenes include Van's words about the struggle, her sport and her unwanted role as unofficial spokesman.

"It's not a role that I wanted to have," said Van, who was the sport's first official world champion in 2010. The movie shows the heartache the women struggled with as they tried to excel in a sport they loved. At one point, the disappointment was so crushing that Van left the sport, only to return last year just before world championships and the IOC's decision to finally include women in the sport.

It's a fascinating look at the discrimination the women suffered and the rationale used to keep them out of the Winter Games, including footage of IOC officials questioning whether women's bodies could take the physical impact of ski jumping. But the movie is also a testament to the human spirit and what can be accomplished with cooperation and determination.

The film is scheduled to run for two weeks as part of the Cultural Olympiad celebration marking the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Salt Lake Games in which Van once dreamed about participating. It's playing at all six Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theaters.

"I hope this film inspires anyone who comes up against the toughest of challenges to keep fighting for what they believe in and to never, never give up," said writer/director Bill Kerig. He and his team started filming Van and the ski jumpers nearly two years ago, traveling across the globe capturing the extreme highs and lows of this dramatic story.

email: adonaldson@desnews.com

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