Parkites gather to support women’s ski jumpers |

Parkites gather to support women’s ski jumpers

Barry Van (center) and friends and family gather at the Red Rock Brewery Tuesday, February 11, and celebrate the success of the U.S. Ski Team, including Barry's daughter, Lindsey Van, on their impressive ski jumps at the Sochi Olympics. (Christopher Reeves/Park Record)

The party at Red Rock Brewing Co. didn’t slow down when Park City ski jumper Lindsey Van finished out of the medals at the inaugural women’s ski jumping competition at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Watching on a big screen in the party room, Lindsey’s father, Barry Van, knew this moment was more about the journey than the results. His smile didn’t go away when Lindsey’s last jump registered at 94.5 meters and he realized she wasn’t going to win a medal.

"I’m excited for all the girls now that it’s in the Olympics," he said. "Lindsey’s one of the major reasons it’s in the Olympics. Whatever happened [results-wise] was going to be what happened. She’s very excited."

Surrounded by family, friends and supporters, Van said it was very inspiring watching his daughter fulfill her biggest dream.

"She’s reached her goal," he said. "Her goal from when she was seven years old – and she loved the sport from the first time she tried it – she wanted to go to the Olympics. Now she’s been in the Olympics and she’s lived her dreams."

Lindsey finished 15th out of 30 jumpers, with U.S. teammates and fellow Parkites Jessica Jerome and Sarah Hendrickson finishing 10th and 21st, respectively.

Barry Van said the results will be a positive for the whole U.S. team.

"I think there will be more women coming out of the United States now," he said. "They’ve all learned a lot and we’ll press on."

And, as Peter Jerome, Jessica’s father and founder of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, told WSJUSA shortly after the event in Sochi, the dedication of these three jumpers will inspire the next generation.

"No one handed this to them," he said. "Being good at this didn’t get (these women) to where they are tonight. They had to show just an incredible amount of stick-to-itiveness back in the day when there wasn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They were jumping as much as they could because they loved the sport and there was no reward other than the personal satisfaction of competing with their peers, challenging themselves and doing well."

Germany’s Carina Vogt took the first-ever women’s ski jumping gold medal, with Austria’s Daniela Iraschko-Stolz earning silver and France’s Coline Mattel winning bronze. World Cup overall leader Sara Takanashi of Japan finished fourth.

As Barry Van cheered for the rest of the women jumpers after Lindsey’s jump, rooting for Iraschko-Stolz to take gold, he said there was nowhere else he’d rather be watching.

"I’m glad I’m not over there because I’d be a real wreck," he said. "I’d rather be with all these people here, to be honest with you. I can see better on TV and enjoy being with all these supporters who have been supporting her and the whole team for all these years."

Still, Van couldn’t quite hold back his emotions when asked how much it meant to celebrate his daughter’s biggest moment with the people of Park City.

"It’s super," he said as his voice trembled and tears formed in his eyes. "Park City’s great. It couldn’t have happened without Park City and all the supporters here – that’s the coolest part."

Though another Olympics probably aren’t in Lindsey’s future, Barry said the 29-year-old jumper still has a little fight left in her.

"We’ve still got to get two more [women’s jumping] events in the Olympics – the 125-meter jump and the team jump," he said. "The girls have some work to do and I think they’ll do that."

But first, now that the competition is over, Van said Lindsey will enjoy the rest of her Olympic experience.

"Now she’s going to spend the next three days skiing over there at a private resort," he said. "She’s very excited about that."