Posted in Olympics, Ski Jumping on February 22, 2013 by Vanessa Pierce

In 2009, American Lindsey Van, of Park City, UT, became the first World Champion in women’s ski jumping after winning the first World Championships to allow women to compete. She’s the only American (male or female) to win a Gold at a World Ski Jumping Championships.

Lindsey became the instant face and spokeswoman for the fight to get women’s ski jumping added to the Olympic Winter Games program.

She and her Women’s Ski Jumping USA teammate, Jessica Jerome, courageously were the first to sign on to a gender discrimination lawsuit against the Vancouver Organizing Committee in 2008. They risked alienation and retribution from the International Ski Federation and the International Olympic Committee. They soon were joined by 13 additional ski jumpers from around the world.

Photo by: DanCampbellPhotography.com

Photo by: DanCampbellPhotography.com

Lindsey is a 13-time U.S. national ski jumping champion (normal and large hills) and she has more than 50 top-three finishes internationally, including eight wins. She also holds the North American women’s record with a jump of 171 meters. Before the Olympic Games in 2010, she held the hill record for men and women in Vancouver, which was 105.5 meters.

She was born in Detroit, Michigan and has a twin brother named Brandon. Her father Barry was a cargo ship captain and rarely was home in the first couple years of the twins’ lives. Barry and Lindsey’s mother Miranda decided to leave Detroit for a new start – Park City, Utah. They both loved to ski and wanted to share that love of the outdoors with their kids. Soon the twins started skiing on their own and at age 7, Lindsey discovered ski jumping.

Since she was 9, Lindsey has dreamed of being an Olympian. She has been ski jumping for 20 years — that’s about 20,000 jumps. She skis nearly 60 mph down an in-run and hurls herself off the ski jump, going sometimes as far as the length of two football fields.

Lindsey has had her fair share of injuries. She’s endured back-to-back summer surgeries on her ankle (last year) and knee (this year). Last year she finished 5th in the world despite having mono for half the season. Keeping her body healthy is her No. 1 priority heading toward Sochi.

But what she’s most proud of so far in her life is her decision to become a bone marrow donor. In 2011, she learned she was a bone marrow match for a man suffering from Leukemia. She was able to donate twice that year and later learned that the man’s cancer was in remission. She hopes to be able to meet her recipient one day soon.


2014 Olympics, and some thoughts.

Posted in Ski Jumping on August 11, 2011 by Vanessa Pierce

It’s been a while since I have updated here. It’s been a very busy summer until this point, and I finally feel I have some free time where I can collect my thoughts and write a little something. Since last time I wrote I was going to San Francisco to donate bone marrow, and since then have been training a ton, going to school, and working. Oh oh, I almost forgot, Women’s Ski Jumping was added to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi Russia!!!!
Donating bone marrow was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. I had a lot of time to think about what I was doing. It seemed like a no brainer to me through the whole process, and it still does. I have to admit the drugs to prepare me for the donation were brutal. Your bones have to work so hard to produce more stem cells so they could be collected. I could feel my hips producing these cells. I know it sounds crazy, but I could really feel it! I mean it did feel like I got hit by a truck for a few days, but I knew it was for a good reason. It made me think if I can do this for a few days to save a life it will be well worth it. I knew it would only be a few days of pain, but when I put in into perspective it didn’t even compare. Can you imagine the physical and mental pain a cancer patient has to go through while being diagnosed, treated, and prepped for a bone marrow transplant? They are the ones taking the real chance. These patients literally kill their immune systems through chemo and radiation prior to the transplant. The whole time knowing that their donor may decide not to donate at any time. Without the donation most of these patients will die. Just thinking about that brings tears to me eyes. They are trusting a random person that they have never met to donate the only thing that can save their life. I can’t imagine what my recipient was thinking going into all this.
The process of donating was very simple. I just sat hooked up to a machine while it sorted through my blood to take the parts it needed. It was painless! As soon as it was done I was on my way back to 100%. I was very tired for a few days, but quickly was back in the gym. Honestly I have never felt better. All my old chronic pains were gone, and I was able to train more than I had been able to in the last 5 years. I don’t know why, but I will take it. It has been almost 6 months since I donated and I am anxiously awaiting the 6 month update on my recipient. I am counting down the days. Donating was one of the most unique experiences in my life, and I would do it again without hesitation.
In April Women’s Ski Jumping heard the best news for our sport! Our sport was added to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi Russia. We have been fighting for this for as long as I can remember. It has taken a long time to come up with real thoughts on this. I have only known our sport not to be part of the Olympic program, and one day it changed. It was years of thinking that way, and it takes more than one day to change that thinking. It still doesn’t seem real in my mind. Honestly, when I first heard, I had no words, and very few emotions! I think people expected me to be ecstatic, but I wasn’t. I felt relief and a lot of relief. I felt we had really made a step forward in our sport, and I could look at it all differently. My role changed a lot, and for the better. I no longer have to be that athlete fighting for a political issue, and can focus on just being an athlete. This has taken some time getting use to. My only focus now is to be the best ski jumper I can be, and it has never been so clear cut for me. It is still a huge relief for me! I can just wake up and focus on training. It’s great!! I have never been so motivated to ski jump before. I found my passion for the sport again without it being blurred by a political scar. I am so excited for the future of our sport, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.
As for the rest of the summer, I will be busy training for the upcoming World Cup season, and working. I hope I can compete this fall in Trondheim, and a few domestic competitions. I want to give props to all the women who have stayed in the sport, and my teammates for sticking together through all of the hard times. I am honored to have you all in my life, and I look forward to the future of our sport with you all.

Worlds over, onto bone marrow donation!

Posted in Ski Jumping on March 9, 2011 by Vanessa Pierce

Seun and I. One year after his transplant and before I donate. He inspired me to join the registry.

Larry Stone and I in the thick fog.

The World Championships ended last week in Oslo Norway. A record 570,000 spectators came to watch the events in the craddle of nordic sports. It was an increible atmosphere, and event to be a part of. It is something I will never forget! The competition did not go as planned, but they rarely do. The hill blaneketed in a heavy fog didn’t allow the athletes to even see their coach. I remember sitting on the bar and hearing the roar of the 9000 spectators, and trying to hear my coach whistle. I did not hear anything excpet the crowd, so just decided to go when the light turned green. I find it strange that it can be super windy and foggy at the same time, but I have seen this weather many times in Oslo. The comp was held in a windy foggy mess, with the spectators unable to see anything except bits and pieces of the jumbotron. Despite the bad weather the comp was held, and everybody stayed to celebrate. My jump is kind of a blur for me. I remember going down the inrun, and not being able to see too much. The takeoff felt ok, and then I was so crooked all I could do was try to get straight. As soon as I realized what was going on I had landed very short on one leg. I was in shock if that really happened, and yes it did. One jump, one time that determines your result after two years of all time. It was just one more competition. Ski Jumping is a winter sport with weather that can play a huge part in the results. I always understood this, and now I fully understand what can really happen. Oh well, I still very much enjoyed my time in Oslo, and it was an honor to be there. I have to give props Daniela Iraschko on her win. She deserved this win, as she has been the best over the past few years. Daniela was even dealing with a fairly serious knee injury, which makes her win even more impressive. Congrats to Elena (2nd) and Coline (3rd) as well.

Tomorrow I start on my next journey to donating bone marrow. I will be starting my five day course of injections to boost the amount of stem cells into my blood stream so they can be collected. I will be in Park City until Sunday when I will travel to San Francisco to donate. I will be travelling with my roommate Shasta Mitchell who will be taking care of me through the procedure. I am honored to be able to do this for someone. It is something we can all do to make a difference in this terrible diesease. If you want to join the registry, you can sign up at bethematch.com. I will be trying to update how I am in th coming week, but can’t promise anything.

Norwegian Training Camp

Posted in Ski Jumping on February 20, 2011 by Vanessa Pierce

At the Spinno suit factory, Vikersund Norway.

Today was our last day of our World Championship training camp in Norway. We were training in Lillehammer last week, and Vikersund this week. It was a successful training camp with good weather, and better jumping by all team members. I had 16 jumps in Lillehammer and 16 in Vikersund as well. I think the team is well prepared for the competitions, and our coaches Kjell and Sigurd are satisfied with the camp.
We took time out to visit the Spinno suit factory in Vikersund to get a new suit. We spent hours there perfecting them, and also some help from Sigurd who is a master on the sewing machine. The people from Spinno gave us a curling lesson today. Ha, what a strange sport! Curling is a lot harder than it looks. To get that stone to go straight is no easy task.
Bill Kerig has also been following us around this week in the making of Ready to Fly. His camera man Peter has been filming all our training sessions, enduring many hours of standing in the cold. I think they were able to get some good footage as the weather has been perfect. Bill will be heading to Oslo with us tomorrow and adding a few more to his crew. Check out a clip of Anette Sagen and I in Lake Powell this fall. Tomorrow we will be driving to Oslo to meet up with the rest of the athletes from USA. Our first official training is on Tuesday at Midstubakken. We are looking forward to the competition, and a fun atmosphere in the nordic capital of the world.

Worlds in Oslo Norway Feb 25th

Posted in Lindsey Van, Ski Jumping, WSJUSA on February 13, 2011 by Vanessa Pierce

I am about to head out the door to begin my journey to Norway in a few minutes. I am headed there for World Championships. The Nordic Worlds are being held in Norway, the birth place of these sports. It is expected to be a great atmosphere with lots of people watching kinda like the Super Bowl is here.
Over the last few weeks I have been training here in Park City. I have had about 40 jumps on the K120 here with great training weather. I have also been in the gym, doing lost of cross country skiing, and some yoga. I feel confident in my jumping, and I am healthy! I am very excited to go to Norway for this competition. I think the competition will be at very high level. Austria’s Daniela Iraschko, Coline Mattel, are jumping very well so it should be a tight competition. My team consists of Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson, Abby Hughes, Alissa Johnson, and myself. You can watch the comp on fromsport.com, if you click on the women’s jumping link.
When I get back from Worlds I will be on my way to San Francisco to donate bone marrow. This is very exciting for me, and of course a bit scary. I was identified as a match for someone with Leukemia back in the fall, and after going through multiple test, I will be donating March 14th and 15th at UCSF. I hope I can help save someone’s life. You can sign up at bethematch.com The next few weeks should be exciting with Worlds, and then donating bone marrow. Thanks for the support. I will be updating while I am in Norway.
Lindsey Van

Winter Camping with Shejumps

Posted in Ski Jumping on April 11, 2010 by Vanessa Pierce

I was invited by Shejumps to go on a winter camping adventure. Of course the first thought in my mind was how cold I was going to be, but decided to go on an adventure. This was something I had never done before, but have wanted to do. This year seems like a good year to try new things. With a break from jumping I have been able to do some new things. I had always put things on hold to train, travel, or compete in Ski Jumping, but this year I am making time to have new adventures. It’s good for my soul!
The destination for the winter camping was up in Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Willow Creek area. I had packed my big pack the night before hoping I was not forgetting anything. I looked at the list, and made sure I had everything. I have learned from my traveling experices to check a few times. The pack was heavy, at least 45lbs packed with everything I needed to skin up, cook food, sleep, and enough clothes to keep me warm. I had done a bunch of tours before, but not with a heavy pack like this. As I slowly made my way through the aspen trees it reminded me lifting weights almost. Each step a little bit harder with the extra weight. The skin trail was great. There were not too many steep places, but a nice gradual trail through the aspen trees. The light shining through the aspens at 7pm was colorful and kept me motivated to keep seeing what was around the next switchback.

It did not take too long until we could hear some call outs through the trees. We called out back and fourth until we could see their bright colors through the aspens. Some of the group had come earlier, and some were coming later. As we got there we immediately started digging a hole for our tent. You want the tent a little protected so digging a small pit was ideal. The other ladies slowly assembled through out the night, and the last one coming up alone at midnight. Props to Laura for skinning alone in the dark.
After setting up the tent and putting on all my layers it was time to dig out a kitchen, and a fire pit area. All the girls were diging out a pit for a fire in the middle with seats and back rests around. It was such an awesome set up. We sat around the fire going around the circle talking about random things, and learning new things about each other. I met four new women, so that was pretty cool. It was neat to have twelve women up in the woods with the same interest having a great time. Claire cooked us an awesome meal of quinoa, and brats. Food always taste so much better when you are outside!
Shortly after dinner it was time to hit the hay. Winter camping makes bed time an adventure all in itself. We packed three girls into the tent for body heat, which was a great idea. We all had our own sleeping mats, sleeping bags, and a whole lot of clothing on. I learned that dry socks were really key in staying warm, as well as going pee. Your body spends a lot of energy keeping urine warm, but if you go to the bathroom your body can use that energy to heat the rest of your body. I put one pair of dry socks on with a foot warmer beween a second pair of socks. This kept my feet warm all night, or I don’t think I would have been able to sleep. I slept quite well considering we were outside.
I woke in the morning to the sunlight coming through the tent. We made some coffee, ate some awesome that Claire made. One of the girls brought a sled, so we all took our turn down the course each time getting faster and faster. It was great to see all of these women having fun in the woods. We slowly took down camp and packed our bags. I was really looking forward to the ski down. I like going downhill, that has never been a problem for me. So with twelve girls all packed with huge packs we set off into the aspen glades. It was so fun to see all the colorful ladies weaving in and out of the aspens with our huge packs on. The skiing was quite good, and we hit the corn cycle perfect that morning. This was just an intro to winter camping, and skiing. Next time we will go farther in, and do some more touring.
I have learned for next time to pack as light as possible while bringing the proper equipment and right layers, and I cannot wait to have another fun winter camping adevnture.

New Skiing Adventure

Posted in Ski Jumping on April 11, 2010 by Vanessa Pierce

It has been quite a while since my last blog post. I have been doing all sorts of new, and fun things including skiing in my first Big Mountain skiing competition. The competition was held at Snowbird, and it was the World Championships of Freeskiing. It was a new and refreshing experience for me. I was able to compete in a sport I love without the pressure and expectations. It was great to compete again, I think I was missing that. It was new and fresh which was defiantly something I needed. I have been Ski Jumping competitively for 19 years, so it was time for a little change. I have always enjoyed skiing when I had time between jumping, but this year I was able to ski a lot more. It was fun to do something away from the Ski Jumping world, and get my mind off of it.
The conditions for the qualifier day at Snowbird weren’t ideal, but hey it’s a winter sport and it is what it is. The qualifier was on West Baldy at Snowbird. West being the keyword. In the spring the west facing slopes get a lot of sun, which makes the snow nice and mushy like mash potatoes. The problem is when it freezes overnight, and becomes a boiler plate come time for the competition. I skied pretty hard, but didn’t push it too much. This was my first shot at competitive skiing, so I had no expectations. The snow conditions made it rough but I qualified 2nd, and was able to compete in day 1 on Silver fox.
Silver fox is right under the tram and is a north facing slope. We had about 3 inches of new snow the night before, so that added to the north slope made the snow much more ideal. I was 2nd to run the venue. I picked a line down a chute with a mandatory cliff out at the bottom. I had no problem with the difficult top part of the line, but caught the back of my ski, and went for a rag doll. I flipped and flopped over and over again. Interesting crash, but the skis didn’t come off, so I was able to finish my run ending in 21st place. Obviously falling is not ideal for moving onto the 2nd day, so that was the end of my free skiing adventure. I did see lots of great skiing from the other women and look forward to skiing with them again next year. I had a great time doing something new and refreshing. It was something that I had wanted to do for a little time, so felt good to get it out of my system.