Logan Sankey to jump in Youth Olympics
When Women’s Ski Jumping USA, an athletic organization based in Park City, began its Fly Girls development program two years ago, it was hoping to further the careers of young girls in the sport.
Now, the first group of the program’s alumni are starting to do big things. Logan Sankey, a 17-year-old ski jumper originally from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, will headline a group of five Fly Girls competing in Europe this month.
Sankey is currently in Lillehammer, Norway, to compete in the Youth Olympic Games. From there, she’ll meet up with four other Fly Girls alumni — Gabby Armstrong of Lake Placid, New York; Mollie Immens of Fox River Grove, Illinois; Cara Larson of Barrington, Illinois; and Sophia Nester of Park City — for the Nordic Junior World Championships in Rasnov, Romania.
Sankey said she’s excited for the opportunity to compete in Europe for the longest stretch of her career.
"I’ll be gone about a month," she said. "I was able to have a similar trip last year. I got to go to a Continental Cup in Sweden and then to World Juniors in Kazakhstan, but this is slightly longer than that and more exciting, I think."
Sankey isn’t going to focus on her results during the two big competitions. Rather, she’s going to make sure she enjoys the experience, something she said will help her jump better.
"I always jump better when I’m happy and excited about the sport and excited about ski jumping in general," she said. "It really makes me jump better. All this exciting new stuff and hearing that I’m going to get to go to all these new places, it’s really exciting so I’ve been excited about ski jumping and have seen a lot of improvements in my jumping just because of that whole attitude.
"First and foremost, I want to totally enjoy the experience [in Europe]. I want to keep a clear head, know what I’ve been working on and keep working on that and jump well."
In Europe, snow totals have been dismal at this point in the winter. Sankey has been training in Park City during one of the best winters in recent memory, so she said the mental aspect of jumping in Europe will be a big focus of hers.
"I’ve heard it’s been crazy," she said. "You go over there and literally the only snow is on the hill. They’ve worked really hard to get snow on the jump itself, but then it feels like summer the rest of the time. It’s kind of weird mentally. You know you’re going to go jump on show, but it doesn’t feel like winter. I think you just have to know that we’re spoiled here and that it’s not going to be like that overseas. You’re still doing the same movements either way, though, so you don’t have to change too much on the technique side."
When Sankey returns from her trip to Europe she said she’ll get back to work trying to improve and earn a spot on the World Cup tour next season. She’ll continue to train in Park City with coaches like Alan Alborn and Lindsey Van, both of whom are former Olympians. She said she’s lucky to have such accomplished coaches available to her.
"I think we kind of take it for granted sometimes," she said. "Ski jumping legends are just sitting in the office [at the UOP] and you’re just like, ‘Hey Alan, uh, what are we doing today?’ It’s crazy when you think about how we have so many incredible coaches right upstairs."
Sankey added that she’s proud to represent the first class of Fly Girls to compete in major international events.
"Fly Girls was an incredible experience for me," she said. "I actually wouldn’t be ski jumping right now if it weren’t for Fly Girls. It kind of showed me there was a future for my sport. I had such a great experience with all the girls and living in Park City and being able to look up to Lindsey, who was right there coaching us. It kept me in the sport and it kept me working hard."
Though she said she’d like to compete in the 2018 Olympics, Sankey said it’s hard to predict where she’ll be in two years.
"Everything in ski jumping is so mental and it can change in a second," she said. "It’s really hard to look into the future because the future is so uncertain. There are no guarantees. I just have to keep working hard and try to improve. We’ll see where it goes in the next couple of years."
The women’s ski jumping competition at the Youth Olympic Games is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 16. Sankey and the other Fly Girls alumni will jump at the Nordic Junior World Championships on Feb. 25.
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Park City lost to Skyline in straight sets but were competitive against the high-flying Eagles.