U.S. women’s ski jumpers miss out on Olympic qualification

U.S. Nordic Combined & Ski Jump Olympic Trials
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U.S. women’s ski jumpers failed to qualify any spots for the Beijing Winter Olympics, a notable absence for the nation that helped lead the fight for women’s ski jumping’s inclusion in the Games.

The International Ski Federation posted the final Olympic quota allocations, based on international competitions, on Monday. The U.S. did not move up from its place outside the Olympic quota.

Anna Hoffmann, who won the U.S. Olympic Trials on Christmas, can only get into the Olympic field if six spots go unfilled among nations that did qualify. That’s very unlikely.

“Obviously it’s disappointing because all of us want to be Olympians,” Hoffmann said earlier this winter on NPR. “We’re a developing, growing team, and we’re more focused on the depth of our team and the long shot of it.”

Americans were at the heart of early milestones in women’s ski jumping.

In 2008, Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome were among 15 female ski jumpers to sue the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee for gender discrimination over not having women’s ski jumping on the Olympic program. Men’s ski jumping has been on the program since the first Winter Games in 1924.

While the British Columbia Supreme Court declared the IOC exhibited gender discrimination by excluding women’s ski jumping, it stopped short of forcing organizers to hold an event, stating that Canadian law had no jurisdiction over the IOC.

In 2009, Van won the first women’s event in world ski jumping championships history.

After women’s ski jumping was added to the Olympic program for the 2014 Sochi Games, American Sarah Hendrickson became the first woman to take a competitive ski jump in Olympic history.

Van and Jerome retired after their lone Olympics in 2014. Hendrickson announced her retirement last March. A U.S. ski jumper hasn’t finished in the top 10 in an individual World Cup in nearly five years.

“When I think about whether or not we send a woman to these Games [in Beijing], athletically we’re not quite ready yet anyway,” Billy Demong, the 2010 Olympic Nordic combined champion who is now the chief executive of USA Nordic, said, according to NPR.

The Olympic competition will also be without reigning Olympic gold medalist Maren Lundby. The Norwegian announced in October that she would not compete this season.

“Ski jumping is a sport with a lot of demands, weight is part of it,” Lundby said then, according to an Olympics.com translation. “My body has changed naturally lately, and for this reason I don’t want to sacrifice everything to be at the best level in Beijing.”

Austrian Marita Kramer is this season’s World Cup standings leader.

After women’s ski jumping was added to the Olympics, Nordic combined was left as the lone sport in either the Summer or Winter Games without female representation.

In December 2020, American Tara Geraghty-Moats won the first women’s Nordic combined World Cup event. It debuted at the world championships last February.

A women’s event was in 2018 denied a place on the 2022 Winter Olympic program — an IOC official cited a lack of Olympic-level athletes in a range of countries — but the World Cup and world championships inclusion could lead to a place at the 2026 Winter Games in Italy.

The U.S. men qualified two Olympic quota spots in ski jumping. Olympic Trials winner Kevin Bickner will fill one of them. It’s the first time the U.S. failed to qualify for the Olympic men’s team event in ski jumping, which was added in 1988.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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