Benefit will float or sink women’s jumpers |

Benefit will float or sink women’s jumpers

When women’s ski jumpers take to the air for their second-ever FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in February, it’s possible the defending champion will be grounded at home in Park City.

That’s because Parkite Lindsey Van can’t afford a trip to Oslo, Norway, without the financial support of Women’s Ski Jumping-USA. And, unless that organization gets a huge windfall from its "Join the Journey" fundraiser on July 14, it might cease to exist.

"I don’t think that we could recover from it," Van said of a WSJ-USA dissolution. "I know I definitely don’t have the money, and neither does my family, for even one trip. That’s pretty wild. I’m the defending world champion, and what if we don’t have the money to get back to the world championships?"

The U.S. women’s ski jumping team was ranked No. 2 in last year’s Continental Cup, but the United States Ski and Snowboard Association dropped all funding to the program after the sport’s bid for inclusion in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games was denied by the Canadian government.

Now, as elite jumpers await a world championship showcase, a new World Cup circuit in 2011-12, and an increasingly strong case for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, their sport stands on the doorstep of mainstream culture. Yet the U.S. team is fighting for its survival.

Without paying any staff, expenses for the team’s athletes alone run over $150,000 each year, and a busier competition schedule only adds to the bill. The national team coach, Kjell Magnusson, has had two months’ payment deferred until the team can raise more money, and most of WSJ-USA’s administrative support is provided on a volunteer basis.

"We are broke," said WSJ-USA president and former Salt Lake City mayor Deedee Corradini. "This fundraiser is critical to keep us alive for the next six months. Without a successful fundraiser, we can’t keep our team going. We desperately need to sell out."

The event will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Resort West’s SKI Magazine Dream Home in Deer Valley. Corradini said the team will likely know its fate within a few days of the fundraiser, after it has tallied its proceeds. They are aiming for $50,000, but are still "way behind" their goal of selling 175 tickets.

"Unfortunately, a lot of people wait until the last minute," Corradini said. "We just hope people will sign up now."

Expected to attend are moguls silver and bronze medalist Shannon Bahrke, super G bronze medalist Andrew Weibrecht, short-track speedskating silver medalist Katherine Reutter, decorated Paralympian Chris Waddell, two-time cross-country Olympian Andy Newell, two-time ski jumping Olympian Anders Johnson, two-time freestyle aerials Olympian Emily Cook, and short-track speedskating bronze medalists Travis Jayner and Alyson Dudek. The U.S. women’s jumpers will all be present, as well.

Dining will represent the cuisine in 18 nations around the world that sponsor women’s ski jumping teams, and wine, beer and cocktails will be provided. Hundreds of items will be up for auction, including a HEAD ski signed by gold medalist Bode Miller, a Deer Valley season pass, a stay at Harrah’s in Las Vegas with a dinner and show tickets, an autographed jersey from the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team and a David Yurman necklace and bracelet from O.C. Tanner.

"It’s super important, not just for obvious reasons as a fundraiser, but it’s a chance to put our heads together as a community to make a fun event," said U.S. National Champion Jessica Jerome. "It’s going to be a good time."

Tickets are $200 per person and can be purchased online at Discounts are available for multiple tickets.

"Just sign up," Corradini said. "We need your help. These women deserve your help. They’ve worked hard and they’re almost there."

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