Wednesday was a historic day for the sport of women's ski jumping.
For the first time ever, the sport's athletes will be allowed to compete in the Olympics, beginning Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia. And, on Wednesday, the first-ever U.S. Olympic Women's Ski Jumping Team was named and it's made up of three Park City residents Jessica Jerome, Sarah Hendrickson and Lindsey Van.
Though their journeys to qualify for Sochi have been very different Jerome clinching a spot at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Park City last month, Hendrickson battling back from an ACL injury and Van leading the battle to get the sport into the Olympics in the first place the three women are incredibly excited to head to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"I'm just ready to go do it," Van said. "I know I'm capable of having jumps that can win, so I'd like to put those out there."
"It's definitely starting to sink in a little more now that the rest of the team's been named," Jerome added.
For Hendrickson, just being able to sit with her teammates as a member of the Olympic team has taken a lot of tenacity and dedication.
"It's an amazing feeling to be here," she said. "I've said it many times before, but when you have an injury and you set goals, there's always that bump in the road or another setback you don't plan for. Luckily, my rehab went as perfectly as possible. I'm lucky that I'm here, and I'm ready and excited for Sochi."
As excited as the three athletes were to be named to the U.
"I'm very happy about that decision," Jerome said. "I was tremendously relieved because it's something that I kind of thought about I wasn't going to fight it, but when [coach] Alan [Alborn] asked me what I wanted to do, it was very clear to me that staying home would be the right thing to do, instead of chasing snow all around Europe and maybe getting to jump.
After all, Jerome said, why go to a continent where the winter has been rainy and mild when world-class facilities are sitting in your backyard?
"Here, everything is perfect," she said. "We have a great hill, we have great weather it's home. Sleeping in your own bed, mentally, is an advantage. I'm totally OK with being here for the next week."
Van whole-heartedly agreed with her teammate.
"The next two weeks will be really important," she said. "It'll be nice to just stay home and train and not have to go compete. We just have to get everything dialed in for the Olympics and be prepared the best we can. I think staying home and training and having a little bit less stress will be really beneficial."
As for Hendrickson, who just recently started jumping again and has been training by herself, having her teammates join her is something she's looking forward to.
"It's going to be awesome," she said. "I do love personal jump sessions with my coach, but those are my girls and it's going to be nice training with them. We're the best team in the world and that's how we got to this level training right next to each other day in and day out. I'm excited to have them back."
Until the athletes leave for Sochi, they'll be working on making sure their jumps are as good as they can possibly be leading into the biggest competition of their lives.
"I'm always looking to improve upon everything in my jumping," Van said. "I'm just trying to stay consistent I've had jumps where I've won the round and jumps where I haven't even made the top 30."
"There are a couple technical things I'd like to fine tune, nothing major," Jerome added. "Just getting the opportunity to take multiple jumps a day on the same hill is how I'm going to do that."
As for what they're expecting in Sochi, the athletes said they've tried not to focus too much on that yet.
"I haven't been picturing it that much, honestly," Jerome said. "I've just been really trying to stay focused on what's in front of me. But that doesn't mean I'm not excited. I just can't really picture it because it's going to be one of the coolest things I've ever done in my entire life. I'm just really looking forward to it."
"If it's anything like today, I'll probably just cry," Van laughed.