Olympic Trials: One jumper will punch golden ticket

PARK CITY, Utah — Sunday will mark one of the most significant milestones in women’s ski jumping history as the winner of the Olympic Trials will be the first female jumper named to the U.S. Olympic team.

 The USOC's Road To Sochi Interactive Fan Zone at Utah Olympic Park. Photo by Abby Hughes.

The USOC's Road To Sochi Interactive Fan Zone at Utah Olympic Park. Photo by Abby Hughes.

The winner-take-all competition includes the top women ski jumpers in the U.S. who are vying for the golden ticket to the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games where women jumpers will debut their sport and make history. The remaining 2 to 3 spots on the Olympic team will be announced Jan. 22.

Sunday’s start list includes Nita Englund, of Florence, Wis.; Emilee Anderson of Eau Claire, Wis.; Nina Lussi, of Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Abby Hughes, Alissa Johnson, Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome, all of Park City, Utah. World Champion Sarah Hendrickson is sitting out of the event due to an August training injury to her knee. She’s aiming to be back jumping by mid-January.

Droves of fans old and new to the sport came out Saturday to Utah Olympic Park to watch competitors in the men’s Nordic combined Olympic Trials and to see women and men ski jumpers during training. (Veteran Todd Lodwick won. See Nordic combined results).

“It was hands-down the most number of spectators at the Utah Olympic Park jumps since the 2002 Games,” said Johnson, who lives and trains in Park City. “It’s so terrific to see the community and visitors come out to cheer us on. It means so much and we’re going to put on a heck of a show.”

Several men and women ski jumpers were pulled off the start bar numerous times Saturday during training as officials made gate changes due to moderate wind conditions under bluebird skies.

General admission is free to Sunday’s Olympic Trials event for women’s and men’s ski jumping. The US Olympic Committee’s “Road to Sochi” Interactive Fan Zone is open to the public as well. Try out winter sports, visit with Olympic athletes and stay warm by jamming with live entertainment.

COMPETITION SUNDAY BEGINS AT 11 a.m. (mountain time) at Utah Olympic Park or watch the event on NBC 11:30-1 p.m. (mountain time).  Click for more information on Sunday's event.