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Sochi 2014: Shame on NBC for not showing women’s ski jumping in prime time

How does the old saying go? "If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Moreover, if three American women's ski jumpers -- Lindsey Van, Sarah Hendrickson and Jessica Jerome -- make history, will millions witness the moment?

Apparently not in America, because NBC chose not to air women's ski jumping's inaugural Olympic event Tuesday, February 11 in its prime time TV coverage, opting instead for early rounds of pairs figure skating and Shaun White riding his snowboard on what was clearly a heavily salted, icy (read: no snow) and dangerous half pipe.

The pairs event was the first of two nights and White -- well, he had the worst night of his life, finishing out of the medals in 4th place. Guess it's time to switch over to Canadian TV, eh?

That's what Americans did in droves. Instead of remedying the situation, NBC cut to interviews with the parents of Hendrickson and Jerome after the historic event concluded, making for an even more muddled and confusing mess than ever.

NBC did air women's luge -- so it did get something right. Erin Hamlin won the Americans' first-ever Olympic medal in the sport, a bronze -- and Kate Hansen finished 10th but popped and locked her way into our hearts.

But, we never got a chance to see Van, Hendrickson or Jerome -- or other pioneers like them -- complete their incredible, improbable and oft-controversial journey to become Olympians.

How dare they!

Was it that the torn ACL in Hendrickson's knee was too painful to watch? The prohibitive favorite and sponsorship darling of Nike and Red Bull limped to a 21st place finish -- while Van, the sport's media darling and most recognizable face for years and years when her sport had no ally, finished a respectable 15th. (Jerome, the daughter of women's ski jumping non-profit founder Peter, finished 10th.)

Long before Hendrickson came along there was Van, women's ski jumping's mouthpiece back when the International Olympic Committee wouldn't recognize the sport, and who has long since been forgotten until yesterday, a day that she and her teammates will remember for as long as they live.

As recently as 2009, men were afraid that a woman's "uterus would fall out" if women were allowed to participate in ski jumping.

In fact, someone actually asked Van that very dumb question in 2009. Now imagine this daughter of a Detroit truck driver having to answer that..

All that mattered, frankly, was that this event she'd fought so long and so hard to be a part of was finally here. Albeit four years too late, but better late than never.

Sochi was Van's coup d'etat, her call to arms after so many years of being told no, not even after she jumped further than any man had before the Vancouver games -- when she was in her "zone.".

What Van was saying by competing past her prime this time to all these men, these suits and baby boomers set in their ways that they couldn't see the forest from these trees was, "How dare they!?!"

How dare they ask Van how it felt to compete in her first and only Olympics. According to some assembled media, this would be Van's only chance to represent Team USA -- but in the eyes of this daughter of a Detroit truck driver it wouldn't be, thank you very much.

This moronic question from a stupid reporter came four years after Van was told by the IOC she couldn't jump in the Vancouver Olympics on then-healthy feet, still blistered from years of busting her hump for a cause -- not just a sport.

And how dare they say that after Van finished in 15th place, just 20.2 points behind the gold medalist Carina Vogt of Germany -- or that they said it after she jumped further than any American woman in the first round in Sochi.

"I feel way better now and more relieved than in any time in my whole career. It's the first time in my life I'm living in the now and not talking about what I'm going to do. Today made me extremely happy," said Van in her post-event press conference in Sochi.

That's precisely why this event makes history regardless of NBC's choice to air half-pipe snow boarding --- which already claimed the life of a Canadian not too long ago. Or, slope style, also a new Olympic sport that could have ended the life of an athlete here in Sochi -- were it not for her helmet. And don't get me started on figure skating -- because you all know what happened to Nancy Kerrigan.

So that several prominent American women's skiers suffered ACL tears over the past several months -- Hendrickson five months ago and Heidi Kloser one week prior -- didn't stop Hendrickson and it won't stop Van.

And it won't stop any other woman from jumping, either -- not even if NBC chooses to not show footage of their historic jumps. Or, if the IOC limits women's ski jumping to just one event, which it did in Sochi -- compared to three for men.

"Best experience ever ... Our sport is going forward and is never going to be the same. And we can call ourselves Olympians now. And I couldn't do that yesterday," Van told the News & Observer.

There hasn't been another winter sport in modern times that has been under more scrutiny or been delivered more setbacks than women's ski jumping.

And all the media wants to do is the same thing that the International Olympic Committee wants to do, and that's hold the sport down another 90 years, along the fringes next to curling on its sister station -- when by sheer determination it has earned the right to be your big brother on a big network.

You know, the one you look up to, in pigtails hidden under a helmet and a uterus concealed inside a spandex suit -- because you know after all these years of being held down she can jump just as far as you.

How dare they, indeed.

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