The Craig Fahle Show

Young Woman from Michigan Got Women's Ski Jumping in the Olympics

Friday, February 7, 2014

Women’s ski jumping is making its Olympic debut in Sochi, Russia. Among the American women going to compete in the event is world champion Lindsey Van, a Michigan native who now lives and trains in Park City, Utah. While the Olympics are the pinnacle of sport, Van’s biggest challenge may have been the fight to get women jumpers included in the Games.

The International Olympic Committee refused for over a decade to allow the women to compete in ski jumping. Van spearheaded a lawsuit against the Canadian government to have the women on the hill in Vancouver four years ago. Along the way she trained, recovered from injuries, was the subject of a documentary film, and led the next generation of women onto the ski jumps. Perhaps her most tireless supporter has been her father, Barry Van.

"She likes the extreme skiing of jumping off cliffs," Barry says of his daughter. "She got into it because she didn't like ski racing [where-in] you had to get to the top of the hill and wait. She just [ski-jumped] for fun, and then the coaches asked her to start competing with the boys."

Barry says at 7 years old Lindsey began beating all the boys in the sport, and the coaches began focusing on her for her ability. He says Lindsey always wanted to go to the Olympics, and it's incredible to watch her make her childhood dream come true. But Barry says his daughter's work for inclusion with the International Olympic Committee might not be complete. She would like to see a larger jump and team jumping also added to the Winter Olympics line-up for women.