Jessica Jerome became the first-ever U.S. woman to claim an Olympic berth in ski jumping by winning the Winter Games trials in Salt Lake City, Utah on Dec. 29. She will represent the nation at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February.
Jerome, 26, snagged the sole automatic nomination to Team USA available to female ski jumpers. Her final score of 248.5 bested that of pre-event favorite and fellow sport veteran Lindsey Van, 29, by a two-point margin. Alissa Johnson, whose brother Anders narrowly missed claiming an automatic Olympic berth on the men's side by placing second, finished third. Although Jermone claimed one spot on the team, at least two remain, with Van almost assured of taking one of them. The other could well go to World Champion Sarah Hendrickson, who is rehabbing following an August injury.
During a post-event television interview, Jerome called both her victory and the inclusion of the event in the Winter Games "huge" and praised her competitors, asserting "I couldn't have been out there with a better group of girls."
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) added women's ski jumping to the 2014 Sochi event roster in 2011 after a collection of female athletes, including inaugural women's world champion Van, sued for gender discrimination. A previous bid to force the event's inclusion in the 2010 Vancouver Games failed. Men's ski jumping has been an Olympic event since 1924.
Women's ski jumping action at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi is scheduled for Feb. 11.