Olympic hopeful Lindsey Van
fights for her sport in Winter Games
By Adam Spencer, The Park Record
Lindsey Van recently won her 16th
U.S. Ski Jumping National Championship in Lake Placid.
(Dan Campbell/Womena s Ski Jumping USA)
Just because Lindsey Van has 16 U.S. ski jumping
national championships, a world championship, eight
international victories and more than 50 top-three
finishes internationally doesn't mean there are
things she hasn't accomplished.
And just because Van - a Detroit native who now
lives and trains in Park City, Utah — has jumped
about 20,000 times in her 20-plus year career (she's
been jumping since she was nine) doesn't mean she
still doesn't have fun with the sport she's dedicated
her life to.
This season, in particular, has the potential to
be a season full of firsts for Van.
Back in September, the 29-year-old Van and her teammates
traveled to Ogden, Utah to work on their form in
iFLY wind tunnel, something Van had never done before.
Nina Lussi, Van's Women's Ski Jumping USA and U.S.
Ski Team teammate, said that was a day everyone
“That was something Lindsey had been wanting to
do for 15 to 20 years,” she said. “She said it was
the greatest experience. She was smiling and just
really happy about it. It was great to see that.
It's nice to remind yourself how much you love the
sport you've been doing for so long.”
This World Cup season, Van will attempt to do something
else she hasn't done in a while - stay as healthy
as she possibly can for the full season. After battling
injuries the last two years, she's hoping this year's
full off-season of training pays dividends.
“I'm trying to keep it simple and have fun,” she
said. “I'm just looking for more consistency. For
the last two seasons, in the summer, I was injured
so I wasn't able to train as much. Now, I'm focusing
on the simpler things - jumping every day and making
every jump count.”
If Van does stay healthy and continues her season
of solid jumping, she's in line to earn a spot on
the U.S. Olympic ski jumping team in the 2014 Sochi
Olympics, which will be the first time women ski
jumpers are allowed to compete at the Olympic level.
Van, who was instrumental in getting the Olympic
Committee to recognize the merits of women's ski
jumping, said she's thrilled to have the opportunity
to represent Team USA.
“It's great,” she said. “It was a long road there
and took a lot of energy. It makes you appreciate
But, she quickly added, there is still a lot of
work left to do to make women fully equal with men,
like including a Nordic combined event and having
women compete on 120-meter hills as well as the
“The sport has made a step forward, but there are
still a lot of things that need to change,” she
said. “I'm going to keep fighting for that.”
She and her coach, Paolo Bernardi, say it's only
a matter of time before the Olympic Committee recognizes
how much women's ski jumping has grown in the last
few years and how many women are competing at a
“Every single winter now, women's ski jumping in
the world gets more challenging and harder,” Bernardi
said. “Some of the other countries have quite young
rosters and they can develop their athletes, I can't
say more than us, but of course, being young, the
training is different.”
Though the depth of quality athletes in the sport
is on the rise, Bernardi thinks Van and teammate
Jessica Jerome, another veteran, have the talent
to keep the U.S. on top while Sarah Hendrickson
recovers from a knee injury.
“Last year, Jessica and Lindsey were really close
- fourth, fifth several times,” he said. “We want
to get them back on the podium so they can have
an extra boost going into the Olympics.”
Until then, Van and her teammates will prepare for
the World Cup season, which begins on Dec. 7 with
a competition in Lillehammer, Norway. She said she'll
keep taking it one event at a time until the Olympics
“I'm trying not to think about it a whole lot,”
she said. “But people want to talk about the Olympics
a lot. It's great to get exposure for the sport,
but it's pretty daunting.”