Members of the U.S. Women's Ski Jumping team and their nonprofit foundation Women's Ski Jumping USA are hosting a benefit Aug. 19, 2009 at the exclusive Huntsman Mountain Estate in Deer Valley, Utah in an effort to keep their program from dissolving.
In May, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association — which had been supporting the elite athletes for three years — dropped all funding to the women's team citing it as a budget decision and because the women aren't considered part of the Olympic program.
WSJ-USA has hired the women's ski jumping coach Kjell Magnussen and these athletes are working hard to raise $150,000 by the fall so the team can continue to train and compete.
The USSA drop in funds came on the heels of a historic year for the U.S. team as women were allowed to compete for the first time in ski jumping in the Nordic Word Championships and American Lindsey Van became the first American to win a gold medal in ski jumping and the first American to medal in the event in more than 80 years. In addition, the women's team positioned itself as one of the best in the world with four jumpers finishing in the top three during the 2008-2009 season.
Women ski jumpers from around the world gained unprecedented attention this spring as a group of 15 elite jumpers, including three Americans, sued the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) to gain entry into the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. In July, the British Columbia Supreme Court denied the women ski jumpers the declaration they sought, but found discrimination by the International Olympic Committee. Lawyers for the "Flying Fifteen", who've been working pro bono, have filed an appeal with the BC Court of Appeals.
The U.S. women jumpers and their supporters have secured the Jon Huntsman Sr. Mountain Estate in Deer Valley as the venue for the benefit. The $55 million estate has long been a family retreat for the Huntsman family and will make for a perfect setting for this event.