The U.S. will have a female ski jumper at the Olympics after all.
Anna Hoffmann, originally the sixth alternate, got into the Olympic field after two nations returned a quota spot and four of the top five alternate nations declined spots, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
Hoffmann, 21, won the Olympic Trials on Christmas but was not expected to make it to the Beijing Games due to the U.S. not performing well in international competitions to earn any Olympic berths outright.
“We’re a developing, growing team, and we’re more focused on the depth of our team and the long shot of it,” Hoffmann said earlier this winter on NPR.
Had the U.S. not had any female ski jumpers at the Olympics for the first time, it would have been a notable absence.
The nation was at the forefront of the fight for women’s ski jumping’s inclusion in the Games. 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.
The U.S. men earned three Olympic quota spots in ski jumping but failed to qualify for the Olympic team event for the first time. The men’s team event was added in 1988.
NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.
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