In 2010, many of the world’s best athletes gathered in British Columbia to compete in the Winter Olympics. The Olympic Games are meant to provide a venue for competition free of politics and prejudice. But at those games, and all previous winter games, one group of athletes was excluded because of nothing more than their sex.
Female ski jumpers have never been allowed to compete in the Olympics. Women can compete in hockey, bobsled, luge, curling, skiing, biathlon, skating and every other winter Olympic sport. But not ski jumping.
One Athlete’s Story
A new film, Ready to Fly: A Dream Worth Fighting For, tells the story of five members of the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping team. Focusing on Lindsey Van, the film follows her career from the early days when she fell in love with jumping, through 2011 when she and her teammates find out that they will be eligible to compete at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
So much has happened to Van during her relatively young life that if her story weren’t true, it would be hard to believe. At age seven, she set her sights on becoming an Olympic ski jumper. At age eight, her male coaches tell her that “fat don’t fly” and that she’ll never make it. Lindsey ignores them and perseveres, building her strength and refining her technique. At age 24, she becomes the first Womens’ World Ski Jumping Champion. Later, she out-jumps all of the male competitors at the Vancouver Olympic venue. Still, she cannot compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Van’s success is double-edged. Once her ability is recognized, she’s thrust dead-center into the debate over women’s ski jumping. Uncomfortable in this role, Lindsey quits the sport. Then after a year away, she decides to come back.
While you’d think this might be the happy end of the story, it isn’t. Lindsey Van is a bone marrow donor and unexpectedly gets word that her marrow is a match for a 49 year-old man she’s never met, who is dying of cancer. She can save his life, but she has to drop everything else. She does.
And really, that’s all I know about Van’s story. I do know that the U.S. Women’s team ended the 2012 season in first place and that Van placed 5th in the world. Another U.S. ski jumper, Sarah Hendrickson was the world champion. But for the rest of the story, I — like you — am going to have to see Ready to Fly. I can’t wait.
Help The Cause
After successful screenings in test markets, Ready to Fly needs funds to be completely finished. A campaign is underway, through Saturday, May 26th, to raise $50,000 to cover finishing costs for the film. To donate, click here or on the image below.
Either link will take you to the film’s trailer (well worth watching) and a message from filmmaker William A. Kerig. A donation of $25 will get you a digital download of the finished film, while donors of $40 and above can choose a limited edition director’s cut DVD (and more).
You can also support Women’s Ski Jumping USA directly by visiting the team’s website.
Where to See Ready to Fly
Ready to Fly: The True Story of a Dream Worth Fighting For, will have its world film festival première this Friday, May 25th in Telluride. The film will be shown at the Base Camp outdoor theatre in the Town Park beginning at 9:00 p.m. on Friday. It will also be shown on Saturday, May 26th at High Camp (aka the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village). Click here for more information on Mountain Film 2012.
After Mountain Film, the film’s producers hope to get a broadcast release for the fall of 2013, as part of the buildup to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Show It Yourself
If you can’t make it to Telluride, and you don’t want to wait until 2013, join forces with your ski club, girl scout troop, boys and girls club or other nonprofit and show Ready to Fly up to three times as a fundraiser.
Nonprofits that serve children can buy a license for $200. Other nonprofits can acquire a license for $400. More information can be found here (scroll down through donation premiums). I cannot think of a better ski club fundraiser than this.
Ready To Fly is written, directed and produced by William A. Kerig. Kerig wrote the book, The Edge of Never, and was the writer, producer and director of a 2009 Showtime feature film of the same name. For more information on the filmmakers, click here. Diana Nyad narrates the film.
Finally, a shout-out, by name, to the film’s stars, the members of the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping team: Jessica Jerome, Alissa Johnson, Lindsey Van, Abby Hughes and Sarah Hendrickson.
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