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Five women highlight U.S. jumping team


Five women highlight U.S. jumping team{mosimage}A total of seven athletes, including five women — led by Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome, the No. 2- and No. 3-ranked athletes in the world last season — have been named to the 2007 U.S. Ski Jumping Team.

The women, who are hopeful of seeing their sport accepted into the 2010 Olympics after a major vote of confidence from the International Ski Federation (FIS), are the first to be named to the U.S. Ski Jumping Team.

Van, Jerome and three other Park City, Utah, jumpers — Alissa Johnson, Abby Hughes and Brenna Ellis, were named as women’s jumping was approved last spring by the FIS as an event in the 2009 World Nordic Ski Championships, a vital step if it is to be added to the 2010 Olympic schedule.

Van, 21, who attends the University of Utah when not competing, has been ranked second in the world for the past three seasons. Jerome, 19, a student at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, has been No. 3 twice as the Women’s Grand Prix became the Continental Cup with the 2005 season. Van and Jerome, the only two athletes to win U.S. women’s titles since their championships began in the late 1990s, each have won Continental Cup jumping meets, and all five women were in the top 15 of the 2006 Continental Cup standings.

“USSA [the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association] has been a leader in promoting women’s jumping, and naming the first women to the jumping team is a great step forward,” U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said. “It gives the right message to aspiring jumpers and, we feel, it will help further advance the sport in this country and around the world.”

Bodensteiner also pointed out that FIS changed its rules during its biennial convention in May, extending the age for junior jumping to 19 for 2007, and 20 in 2008. “I think we have an excellent chance for medals at Junior Worlds, especially in the team event,” he said.

The women, as they have been for three years, are coached by Casey Colby of the National Sports Foundation staff. Mike Keuler, another NSF coach, is the men’s coach.

At the biennial FIS Congress in May in Portugal, USSA — which has conducted national championship events annually for women since the late ’90s — took a leadership role with Canada and Norway in helping establish the framework for including the sport in the 2010 Olympics. To become an Olympic sport, it must have held a world championship, and FIS delegates voted to include women’s jumping in the 2009 Worlds with an individual event and a team event in 2011.

Women’s jumping officially was included for the first time in the 2006 Junior Nordic World Ski Championships. It had been a demonstration event for a couple of years; Van was the 2004 bronze medalist.

The 2007 U.S. Ski Jumping Team (with age, hometown and * if Olympian):

Men’s Team
Alan Alborn (25; Anchorage, Alaska*)
Clint Jones (21; Steamboat Springs, Colorado*)

Women’s Team
Brenna Ellis (18; Park City, Utah)
Abby Hughes (17; Park City, Utah)
Jessica Jerome (19; Park City, Utah)
Alissa Johnson (19; Park City, Utah)
Lindsey Van (21; Park City, Utah)

— USSA

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