Archive for the Ski Flying Category

No fly in Vikersund!

Posted in Lindsey Van, Ski Flying, Ski Jumping on March 16, 2009 by Vanessa Pierce
vikersund-09-206So, yesterday we were suppose to go Sky Flying, the culmination of our sport, and the biggest honor as a ski jumper. We arrived at the hill psyched to be there, and you couldn’t have punched the grins off our faces. We received our start numbers, and it became real that we were going to fly. The chance of a life time right? Well it would be nice if it were that easy, but its never that easy as a woman in this sport.
We made it to the top of the hill in our suits with our start numbers, and we even brought our skis. It didn’t matter if I had gone naked because the chance was just a joke. The women had start numbers 12, 13, 18, 21, and 22. The first 11 jumpers went, and jumped quite far in the conditions. 220.5m, the longest jump in Norway ever, but it was by a test jumper. Apparently in our old fashioned sport it’s not cool that World Cup jumpers are the only ones reserved for these sort of jumps. The jury was unhappy that he jumped this far. I thought the idea of test jumpers was to test the new hill and to see how far the new hill allowed for jumpers to fly. This jury had a different idea, they just wanted people to be gentle with the hill, and not push it’s limits. It’s dangerous right? No, all the testers were here to fly as well, and see how far they could push themselves, and test the hill.
The training was stopped after these far jump. The jury had a long meeting, or at least a long discussion on what their answer would be for stopping. The conditions were perfect, everybody was safe, the hill was perfect, and there were still twenty test jumpers at the top of the hill. We waited anxiously for a decision, but the only answer we initially got was that training was over for the day and there would be no more jumps. We walked down grumbling at what we thought had happened. Later we found out the reasoning. This is backwards land, and decisions are made as if we were still stuck in the 1950’s. There were long jumps, and they knew the women were coming. The conditions were perfect so they suspected we would jump far as well. The head of the Ski Jumping Committee in FIS Walter Hofer had said he didn’t want any more jumps over 200m, and that the hill was not for ladies. His reasoning for these answers was that the World Cup jumpers would feel bad, and the competition wouldn’t be as interesting if the test jumpers, and the women were able to achieve these far distances. I feel that he made this decision, because he did not the women to jump far. If we would have jumped far, it would make the superstars look not so bright compared to a woman. How depressing for our sport that is trying to move forward is getting pushed back by a man who knows we are capable of those distances. Frustrating to the max. We take one step forward and two back. He ruined a great once in a life time experience for us. He embarrassed us and took everything we strive towards as Ski Jumping athletes right under our feet. We can do little at this point except grumble to the media, and to those who do support the women trying to have this great experience.

vikersund-09-1981All of the coaches and some officials gathered together to make a plan. They said that if the women were not able to be used as test jumpers, their boys were not going to be used either. A protest in a way that would make FIS squirm . If they had no test jumpers for their World Cup, they wouldn’t be able to have it. The coaches and officials said the women had qualified outright for these positions, and we were going to be used as any normal test jumper. Of course FIS has their own special plan for us with that answer. They said all could jump the next day, even the ones without the penis. Wow, what a concept huh? I knew exactly what they were going to do here. FIS would let us jump, but from such low speed you can’t even break the knoll. They made it so nobody could jump far, so their stars could shine the next day.

On Friday when we got to the hill again and got our bibs people were excited, but in a different way this time. We knew that FIS had its own plans for us. I was still excited to fly, since I hadn’t been in 5 years. When we got to the top I wasn’t surprised to see where the gate was placed. The speed was set so low that we had little or no chance to jump far. Ya, you can jump, but you will look dumb and embarrass yourself. How typical of FIS, just what they wanted. I jumped, and I jumped really short. Short enough that I didn’t even get to feel the hill. I had wished big doors opened and swallowed me as I came into land to save myself some embarrassment. This day I was able to do this twice in, which left such a bitter taste in my mouth about the state of women’s Ski Jumping. I feel my place, and I feel unwanted from FIS. Anettte Sagen had a really good jump and made it on the hill a bit, to 177m, so at least that showed we can jump far, but had it been the same conditions as the day before. Many of the women we capable of jumping over 200m. Wouldn’t want that FIS, women can jump over 200 too. After these two jumps I sat at the bottom for a while thinking about what more could have been done on my end, and I can’t do anything. If I get fired up at FIS, I will just see other repercussions later in a another situation. As an athlete you can only do so much before it comes back around to bite you in the ass. FIS has us caged in. If we didn’t jump then we look scared, and if we do jump we just look ridiculous. Who wins here? We won a little by getting off the hill when they said no, but we were not able to show them what we can do. FIS won more here, because they can show that we jumped short, and made us feel like idiots.

vikersund-09-187Overall the women are angry and stuck. Still stuck, and angry as usual. Every chance they give us they can take it away immediately, and have it swing in their favor. It is sad for our sport that needs to move forward. The governing body that is suppose to support this moving forward is stepping on our toes, and is giving us no wiggle room. It is all done to how they have planned it, and we are stuck in the middle. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. It is very tiresome dealing with this. I am at the front of the sport pushing for these opportunities, and trying to make things happen. It is going so maddening slow. I feel the level of the women is high enough for better opportunities, but we cannot show them. Trying to push this sport is draining. We push so hard for nothing. We have to fight so hard for every little chance we have, and there are very few.

What can we do at this point? Hmm? That is the question. I suppose we have to keep going at a snails pace, and keep fighting, or nobody will. That is what they want for us. To all give up and move on, but that’s not going to happen. People will be fighting back harder than ever, and they better watch out, because we are not giving up.