Join WSJ-USA as we march toward the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games where women ski jumpers will participate for the first time!

Women’s Ski Jumping USA, based in Park City, is the No. 1 team in the world after winning the overall nations title in the inaugural World Cup season in 2012 & 2013. Seventeen-year-old Sarah Hendrickson won 9 of 13 events to become the World Cup champion — a first for the sport.

The team prepared all summer and fall to defend the World Cup title. The season begins on Nov. 24 in Lillehammer, Norway. The crucial World Championships are in February in Val di Fiemme, Italy and the team is aiming for medals.

All of their hard work will culminate in 2014 at the Sochi Olympic Games in Russia. In spring of 2011, the International Olympic Committee announced that it would finally add a women’s ski jumping event to the Olympic Winter Games beginning in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. It will be the first gender-equal Winter Games in Olympic history.

ABOUT THE FOUNDATION

WSJ-USA is a 501c3 non-profit organization incorporated in Park City, Utah. Created in 2003, WSJ-USA financially and logistically supports the VISA Women's Ski Jumping Team and is working to foster development level athletes throughout the U.S. WSJ-USA also advocates for equality for women and girls in sports.

The foundation pays for travel, equipment, training, coaching, and administrative costs. Support for WSJ-USA comes from corporate sponsors, grants, and private donations. Thank you VISA and USANA Health Sciences!

HONORED FOR COURAGE, HIGHLIGHTED IN FILM

In 2011, the U.S. Team and its leaders were honored with the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award from the renowned Women’s Sports Foundation because of their perseverance and courage in fighting to gain Olympic status and equality. In addition a documentary film featuring the women ski jumpers — “Ready To Fly” — premiered in 2012 and has won top honors at the Carmel Art & Film Festival, Banff Film Festival, and X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival – http://www.readytoflyfilm.com

OUR INSPIRING STORY — HOW WE GOT INTO THE OLYMPICS

It is arguably the dream of every athlete to represent her country at the Olympic Games, the sports world’s largest stage. For women ski jumpers around the world, that opportunity did not exist. Ski jumping and Nordic combined, which consists of cross-country skiing and jumping, have long been the only events in the Olympic Winter Games in which women were not allowed to compete alongside their male counterparts.

In 1991, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that all future Olympic sports must be opened to both genders, however, this excluded the 16 original events at the inaugural Olympic Winter Games in 1924, including ski jumping. Female ski jumpers petitioned to participate in every Olympic Winter Games since the Nagano Games in 1998; each time, their contentions were denied by the IOC.

In 2008, 15 women jumpers from five countries sued the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) for their right to compete in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The historic human rights legal battle resulted in the British Columbia Supreme Court declaring in 2009 that the IOC exhibited gender discrimination by excluding women’s ski jumping from the Vancouver Games, but stopped short of forcing VANOC and the IOC to hold an event for women.

The IOC told the ski jumpers that their sport lacked universality – despite having more athletes and more countries competing internationally at the elite level than other Winter Olympic sports for women such as bobsleigh and ski cross. In 2010 alone, nearly 180 women jumpers from 18 nations competed in International Ski Federation-sanctioned competitions.

The international notoriety of their battle to be included in the Olympic Winter Games caused many critics to allege that their exclusion was baseless and grounded on antiquated notions of female athletes’ abilities.

Members of the Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team pushed for change and fought to be included. And on April 6, 2011, the IOC finally announced that women’s ski jumping would be a sanctioned event at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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