Tuesday, December 31, 2013

US Olympic Trials - Ski Jumping

The second big event this weekend was the U.S. Olympic trials for ski jumping. Here in Park City, this is huge.  Almost all of the women's ski jumping team lives and trains in Park City. The women have been fighting for years to have ski jumping include a women's competition.  It is ridiculous that they have been excluded, especially after you see that they jump as far and as well as the men.  The Sochi Olympics will be the first time women jumpers can compete.
The winning competitors, both men and women, fly over 90 meters in the air.  That is almost exactly a football field. I can't imagine having the guts to do it, but it has to be a rush.
Your score is determined by distance and style.  It doesn't take long to start seeing the difference between a nice clean jump and one where they are struggling in the air to stay on track.
Look at the difference between the pictures directly above and below.
The skis they use to jump are longer and wider than normal downhill skis.  When they land they don't have much room to settle, recover and come to a stop.  This was not a pretty landing, but we never saw anyone take a tumble.
Like the Nordic Combined, only the winner of the men's and women's competitions is guaranteed a spot in the Olympics.  For the women, local Jessica Jerome edged out Lindsey Van (not Lindsey Vonn, the downhill skier dating Tiger Woods) for the win.  Sarah Hendrickson, one of the best women in the world and another local, is out with an ACL tear but is hopeful for the Olympics.

It was really impressive to see the crowd that turned out to watch.  For a lot of events at the Olympic Park, they have a few hundred spectators.  So many people wanted to see the women jump that about 7000 people were there.  We had to park over in the nearby shopping center and walk about 1.5 miles up a hill to get there.
...and we end with a bit of humor.  The Olympic Park has a pair of adventure courses where you have to do a number of obstacles before ending with a short zip line.  This was going on right behind us, mostly as a way for parents to entertain their kids.  Then this guy went.

I have no idea whether he just weighed too much or something went wrong, but he got about halfway across the zip line and just stopped.  He was completely helpless.  He couldn't reach the line above him to pull himself to the end.  A few people even lobbed snowballs his way.  Finally they brought him a rope a pulled him along.  A bit humiliated and certainly not a repeat customer.

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