Collegiate Ski Jumping Returns after 31 Years, Includes Women

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FEBRUARY 29, 2009 - Ski Jumping : Price ski competision at Okurayama Jump Stadium on February 29, 2009 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. (Photo by Tsutomu Takasu)

Photo by tpower1978 on Flickr

The United States collegiate ski jumping championships will take place Saturday at Park City, Utah, The New York Times reports, marking the first time the event has been held in 31 years. And for the first time, women will also be competing.

Ski jumping was dropped from the national championships in 1980, largely because of pressure on the college ski community to consolidate or lose its N.C.A.A. backing.

“Ski jumps around the country just vaporized,” said Alan Johnson, the athletic director of USA Ski Jumping. “The number of jumpers declined and there wasn’t enough money to pay for upkeep and insurance.”

Yet ski jumping has seen a resurgence in the last decade, with many in the ski community crediting an influx of women jumpers.

“About 40 percent of our new ski jumpers are girls,” said Walter Malmquist, who jumped for the U.S. in the '76 and '80 Olympics. “It may have been seen as a male sport 30 years ago, but these girls don’t know about that, or care.”

“It is a first start, but in five years, we absolutely will have 50 jumpers, or more, qualifying for nationals,” said Laura Sullivan, the ski and snowboard association’s executive director. “We’ve been through this with other sports. So far, the growth in ski jumping has been faster than when we added snowboarding.”

The International Olympic Committee voted twice against including women's ski jumping in the Vancouver Olympics. No decision has yet been made on whether women will jump in the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

--Michael Webster

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