The U.S. Ski Team's Jessica Jerome soars to a U.S. title this summer at the Utah Olympic Park. (USSA/Tom Kelly)
LILLEHAMMER, Norway (Dec. 1) - Ski jumping will hit another milestone this weekend with the debut of the International Ski Federation's World Cup for women. Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson, Alissa Johnson and Abby Hughes (all Park City, UT) will represent the USA on the 1994 Olympic jumps in Lillehammer.
Organizers are expecting nearly 50 jumpers from 15 nations to compete Saturday. Lillehammer is the start to the 14-event season, hosted at nine venues in seven countries. The tour ends this March in Oslo, site of last season’s FIS Nordic Ski World Championships.
"All the teams have stepped up their training and performance in preparation for this season's inaugural World Cup," said Jerome, this year's large hill U.S. champion. "It's so exciting to be part of this event and we hope to put up some great results."
Women ski jumpers have competed on the lower-tiered Continental Cup for seven years. In 2010, the FIS approved a World Cup circuit for women to debut in the 2011-12 season. This past April the International Olympic Committee (IOC) added a women’s ski jumping event to the Olympic Winter Games beginning in Sochi, Russia in 2014. In addition, women's ski jumping is on the schedule for the inaugural Youth Olympic Winter Games will be held in Innsbruck, Austria in January.
The U.S. has a veteran team led by Jerome. They will be among the athletes battling for the World Cup title this year along with Austrian Daniela Iraschko, Norwegians Line Jahr and Anette Sagen, France's Coline Mattel and Italy's Elena Runggaldier. Lindsey Van, 2009 World Champion, is recovering from ankle surgery in October and will not compete this weekend.
The World Cup will resume in January with a pair of events in Schonach and Hinterzarten, Germany, before swinging down to the 2013 World Championship venue in Val di Fiemme, Italy.