A generation of athletes will retire after training a lifetime in vain if women’s ski jumping is kept out of the 2010 Games, say a group of elite female jumpers.
They won’t quit because they want the next generation of women to compete in the sport they dedicated their lives to.
The sport has been in the Olympics since 1924, but has never had a women’s component, prompting nine female jumpers to sue the Vancouver Organizing Committee alleging it’s breaking equal rights laws.
Canadian jumper Marie-Pierre Morin trained in the United States because of a lack of support at home and eventually retired in frustration.
She said if the sport were allowed in 2010 she’d pick it up again, but waiting until 2014 might be too long.
Karla Keck, an American jumper, is in the same boat. The 32-year-old retired after a long career in which she achieved all her goals except the Olympics.
“It takes the wind out of you to keep going,” she said. “(Women) shouldn’t have to (explain) why they should be allowed to jump.”
American jumpers Lindsey Van, 23 and Jessica Jerome, 21, said it’s discouraging sacrificing social lives, time with family, travel and money knowing there’s an “arbitrary, if not sexist” stipulation keeping them from the Olympics.
“Many times I thought about quitting,” Van said. “The love of the sport kept me going.”
“I want to feel like everything I sacrificed was worth something,” Jerome added. “A lot of girls … have so many years left, but quit because there’s nothing else to strive for. There needs to be something more.”