By Lindsey Van - 2009 World Champion
I started ski jumping at the age of 7, and have been jumping for 22 years now. I have learned so much about myself and what I am capable of through ski jumping. I love jumping, and that has always kept my interest. It wasn't always easy, but the hard parts made me appreciate the best parts even more.
When I started ski jumping I was one of the only girls and I trained mostly with boys. There weren't many competitions that had a women's class, so I competed with the boys until I was 17 years old. The International Ski Federation had a few competitions a year, but it wasn't until 2004 that the women were given their own Continental Cup tour, and in 2012 a World Cup tour. The women had their first official World Championships in 2009 and our first Olympics in 2014. I was a part of all these competitions and it is awesome to see how far the sport has come since I first started.
Throughout my ski jumping career I have learned that I can do things people never thought I could. I was told many times that women would never be in the Olympics, World Championships, or go Ski Flying. I have done all of that, and proved all those people wrong along the way. I proved to myself that if I wanted something bad enough it was possible. I followed my heart and my heart kept saying keep jumping and fight for the things our sport deserves.
It was not an easy or fast process, but I kept working and stayed focused. Our sport has come so far and now there are more and more women jumpers around the world. I can look back now and feel very proud and satisfied that I kept ski jumping and trying to push the sport forward. It has made me who I am today and has given me the confidence to do whatever I want in my life. Not only is ski jumping so much fun, but it taught me skills that will allow me to pursue future endeavors with confidence.