Photo: Jessica Jerome competes in the Olympic trials in Park City Sunday. Credit: Jim Urquhart/AP
Jessica Jerome made history Sunday by becoming the first winner of the U.S. Olympic Trials for the women’s ski jumping team. The event took place at Utah Olympic Park in her home town of Park City, with 5,000 fans lined up at the finish area. Lindsey Van finished second and Alissa Johnson was third. Besides Jerome, three more women will join the U.S. team to compete in the Winter Olympics in Sochi this February.
But Jerome’s two winning jumps are a small victory in the grand scheme of things. They signified the culmination of a much bigger eight-year-long battle for the International Olympic Committee to finally let women compete in ski jumping at the Olympic level. Fighting numerous court battles, the athletes were told over and over again that there weren’t enough high-level women to justify an Olympic-level competition. Even after Van set a world record for both women and men on the 90-meter jump in 2008, she still wasn’t allowed to compete in the Vancouver Olympics two years later.
Ski jumping was the last Olympic door that was closed for women. All other initially exclusively male Olympic sports became open to female athletes over the years, including bobsleigh, wrestling, boxing and luge.