Cleared for takeoff: Women soar in first ever Olympic ski jumping event
Jessica Jerome led the U.S. team with a 10th-place finish, and she was the only one disappointed with her individual performance.
“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 medals,” she said. “It just didn’t happen for me today. It’s unfortunate, but I guess just being able to be here and share this with all of my friends and competitors, that’s I guess a really awesome consolation prize. We have arrived. We are hard-working, we’re dedicated and we’re good at what we do.”
Jerome said she deliberately avoided thinking about the history made Tuesday night so she could focus on competing her best.
Her experience, “as simply as I can, it was fun,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. I didn’t perform to the best of my ability. But I’m still happy strangely. I think everyone is.”
That’s because it took so long and often required so much away from the snow for the women simply to have the opportunity.
Van said she doesn’t care if any of the budding young ski jumping stars know or appreciate what skiers like she and Jerome sacrificed so they could compete for their countries. And, as she points out, all of the women have in some way helped blaze the trail, even if it’s only in how skilled they have become at a sport many said they were not physically able to handle.
“I’ve been jumping with (Iraschko-Stolz) since 1998,” said Van. “She deserves a lot of this piece of the pie ... and she deserves to be up there. I don’t want people to have to think about that anymore.”
Competing in the first-ever event, Van said, was the easiest part of her journey.
“I feel way better now and more relieved than (in) my whole career,” she said. “It actually feels for the first time in my life that I’m living right now and not talking about what I’m going to do. I’m here; and that in itself is a relief and makes me extremely happy. Somebody just won the Olympics.”