Detroit-born ski jumper's lifelong Olympic dreams come true

Lindsey Van fought to make women's ski jumping an Olympic sport, will be among first Americans to compete

Lindsey Van has already won at the Winter Olympics, even though the Opening Ceremony has yet to get underway.

The Detroit-born athlete is a ski jumper, and for years, women's ski jumping was not recognized as an Olympic sport.

"I always hoped it was coming, I never knew it was coming until the team was named," said Lindsey Van.

Women's ski jumping will be one of 12 new events debuting at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The International Olympic Committee voted to make it an Olympic sport in April 2011.

For Van, 29, it has been a long road to compete in these Olympic Games. When she was 17 she was a test jumper before competition at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In 2010 she joined other jumpers and sued for the right to compete in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada but they were unsuccessful.

"It's been a lot of up and down until this point of getting to the Olympics," said Van.

Last month, Van became one of three American women to qualify to compete in women's ski jumping in Sochi. Van is not looking at the past, she is focused on the future and doing her best at her first Olympics.

"It's too much energy to be resentful. I mean, you know, I'm trying to enjoy the sport and I'm still in the sport, and it's not because we have or don't have the Olympics," said Van.

Jessica Jerome and Sarah Hendrickson are the other two American athletes competing in ski jumping. Van is considered a pioneer in the sport as she won the first World Championship in 2009.

"I'm still trying to make a place for me in the sport, I'm trying to write history as I go, and the first step is being on this Olympic team and hopefully I can have a good result, that can be written down as well," said Van.

Van is motivated to continue competing for herself and the female ski jumpers coming up behind her in the sport.

"I see a lot of little girls jumping and I see kind of like a little sparkle in their eye when they have a good jump and that keeps me excited and it gives me motivation to keep going," Van said.

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