Women’s ski jumping film prepping for takeoff in Park City
February 17, 2012
Bill Kerig knows how to fight. He knows how to scrap, and push, and not take no for an answer, even when the odds are significantly stacked against him.
So it’s only fitting that Kerig, the writer, producer and director of "Ready To Fly," took the lead — and risk — on a unique story involving a group of female athletes. After struggling for quite some time to finance the film, Kerig figured it out, and now the film, centered on Women’s Ski Jumping USA and its fight for equality and Olympic inclusion, is hitting the big screen.
"I’m a tenacious person," he said. "At one point, I was pissed off with people saying, ‘No, you can’t do that. It won’t work.’ I knew it would. I knew there was a great story here."
"Ready To Fly" premiered in Salt Lake City Feb. 8, on the 10th anniversary of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and will make its Park City debut Monday at 7 p.m. at the Egyptian Theater on Main Street, and will be shown again at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Each night will feature a Q&A session with Kerig and the members of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, including Lindsey Van, Jessica Jerome, Alissa Johnson and Sarah Hendrickson.
For Kerig, this is the culmination of "the absolutely hardest project I’ve ever worked on."
The former editor and publisher of Wasatch Journal magazine, Kerig is a former professional mogul skier turned journalist turned documentary filmmaker. He worked as a contributing editor for Skiing Magazine for close to a decade, and has also served as a television commentator for the Winter X Games. This is Kerig’s fourth film he’s worked on.
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He hit on the idea of working with Women’s Ski Jumping USA on a film when he recalled a story he had assigned one of his former editors.
"I kind of wondered what happened with that women’s ski jumping thing," he said, laughing.
Kerig called up Women’s Ski Jumping USA and a familiar voice answered the phone. One of his former editors at Wasatch Journal, Whitney Childers, who now serves as director of communications for Women’s Ski Jumping USA, was on the other line.
"I said, ‘That thing ever resolved?’" he recalled. "Whitney said, ‘No, we’re still fighting.’"
So Kerig joined the fight, deciding to document the trials and tribulations after the women were denied eligibility for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
"The last couple years, I’ve kind of chased them around the world," he said. "I would kind of just show up in Germany, or just show up in Norway, showing up at competitions. I tried not to be in their face too much.
"They’re athletes with a job to do."
Women’s Ski Jumping USA President Deedee Corradini said the film is both a celebration of the team’s accomplishments and a narrative to inspire those who haven’t been given the right of equal opportunity before.
"I think it beautifully tells the story of the agony, the defeat and the triumph of what these women athletes have been through in the last eight years and in this fight to get into the Olympics," she said. "It tells the back story a lot of people aren’t aware of. The people who follow the story, know the results — but what the movie shows is the emotional rollercoaster — what we went through and the emotional toll it took on these athletes."
Corradini said the film should help future female athletes who could face similar discrimination.
"I’m thrilled that it was made. It’s a story that needs to be told," she said. "It’s the story about the discrimination against women, not just in sport, but women in general. I’m hopeful it gives young girls and young women the realization that, if I’m persistent and determined, I can do anything."
While Kerig said he never banked on the sport’s Olympic inclusion, last year’s green light for women’s ski jumping in the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, was a cherry on top of his hard work.
"That felt like a great victory and affirmation for me, too," he said. "Also, you kind of hope that, once in a while, people in the world do the right thing — and it’s great when they actually do."
"There’s been a lot of support in Park City over the years," Van said. "It would be great to see everybody (Monday) and say thanks."
For more information on the Park City premiere of "Ready To Fly," visit http://www.readytoflyfilm.com/screenings . A portion of the proceeds from the film will go to support Women’s Ski Jumping USA.