Women’s Ski Jumping USA fundraiser gets new twist
It will be hard to top last season’s list of accomplishments by Women’s Ski Jumping USA.
The owners of the first women’s World Cup season title, the individual crystal ball won by 17-year-old Sarah Hendrickson, and the team title, having defeated second-place Germany by more than 600 points, the group is still flying high.
But for all the achievements the group has to its name, it still must depend on the generosity of donors. Its annual fundraising event, the "On Top of the World" gala benefit, is scheduled for Friday, July 13. Unlike years past, the athletes will trade in their dresses and high heels for their skis, helmets and boots and hold the event at the Utah Olympic Park.
"That’s what we do," said WSJ-USA veteran Jessica Jerome. "That’s generally when we’re the most comfortable and in our own element. Whenever we’ve had fundraisers in the past, people have come up to us and told us, ‘We’d like to see you jump,’ but it never ended up happening. This year, we said, ‘Show up to the event and we’ll jump for you.’"
Women’s Ski Jumping President Deedee Corradini said since the team had such a successful inaugural season on the World Cup circuit, having the athletes showcase their talents was a no-brainer.
"We thought — after the women have won the World Cup series and we have the No. 1 jumper in the world and team in the world — that many of our supporters have probably never seen these women jump, and what better time for the people to do it than this year," she said. "As soon as the London Olympics are over, the limelight will turn to Sochi, and we expect our women’s team and women jumping in general to be a major story of 2014.
"This fundraiser is just absolutely critical for us. We’ve got to keep these women at No. 1 if we’re going to go for gold. The money we raise at this particular fundraiser is what gives us money over the next year or two."
Proceeds raised at the event will help the organization pay for training, travel, equipment and coaching for the World Cup and development teams, Corradini said.
"This is the fundraiser that we raise probably 80 to 90 percent of what we have to raise to keep the team going," she said.
The fourth annual fundraiser will be a "first-class, elegant" event, according to Corradini, who said just because it is being held at the Utah Olympic Park doesn’t mean it should lose any of its luster.
"We try to make our fundraisers so much fun," she said. "We try to make our fundraisers different than any other one in town."
Eight select people will have the opportunity to signal the start for the jumpers on the K120 hill at the Utah Olympic Park, Corradini said. Folks will also be able to take the chair lift to the top of the jump and get a peek at what the world’s top female jumpers look at before each launch.
"Seeing the top is truly amazing," she said. "I would never even consider going down that jump."
Jerome said it’s often frustrating knowing that she and her teammates must market themselves to keep their Olympic dreams alive, but she knows that the hard work is worth it.
"There are other teams out there who find it funny that we have to do what we do and they say, ‘Wait, you guys have to go to local businesses? Why don’t you have people doing this for you?’
"We just don’t get the funding a lot of the European teams do," Jerome said. "It’s frustrating, but it’s sort of humbling in a way. We do work really hard for everything and every dollar we get. We put a lot of heart into everything we do. It’s just how it is now, you know."
For more information on the fundraiser, visit http://www.wsjusa.com .
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