When someone asks me which event(s) I recommend watching during an Olympic Games, my typical response is, “Watch all of it!” Yes, I still stand by this. As a fanatic I believe that all of the Olympics are worth watching. However, if one isn’t going to tune in for all of the competition, I can say without doubt that there is one event in Sochi worthy of everyone’s attention: Women’s ski jumping.
Back in 2010 I wrote a lengthy commentary on gender bias in Olympic sports, focusing on the ridiculous and inexcusable exclusion of women’s ski jumping from the Olympics. The fact that in the 21st Century women’s
ski jumping still wasn’t a part of the Olympic Games….Well, I still can’t wrap my head around it. Yet thankfully with all the tireless efforts of athletes, coaches, and various sponsors, women are finally getting their opportunity to compete in Olympic ski jumping. The historical event will begin tomorrow (Tuesday), February 11 with the normal hill competition. Pioneers like Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome who fought tirelessly for equality and inclusion in the Olympics are finally seeing the fruits of their labor. And compared to what they’ve endured over the years to earn their place in the Olympics, launching off a 70-meter hill might be less daunting.
As a child I was inspired by the story of Amelia Earhart. The tales of her courageous adventurous spirit and her belief in gender equality helped make me who I am today. How many young girls out there have been–and will be–inspired by Lindsey Van, Jessica Jerome, or Sara Takanashi? How many of them watching this week will be encouraged by these athletes’ bold determination, mesmerized as they watch them soar through the air under a Sochi evening sky? Regardless of who will be standing on the podium tomorrow night, all of Sochi’s female jumpers deserve role model status. Their dogged determination, conviction, and bravery is to be celebrated. Their gallantry deserves the gratitude of all women, old and young.
There will be other memorable stirring moments in these Olympics. But tomorrow night when the first and last jumpers speed down the hill and launch themselves into the frosty air, history will be made. And to all of them, I say: Thanks.
Faster, Higher, Stronger.