Lifestyle

Jump Like a Girl

Former South Whidbey resident Ruth Gregory, at left, and Salt Lake City native Jessica Mathews recently completed a documentary that follows a group of international women’s ski jumpers on their quest for equality in their sport.  - Cynthia Woolbright
Former South Whidbey resident Ruth Gregory, at left, and Salt Lake City native Jessica Mathews recently completed a documentary that follows a group of international women’s ski jumpers on their quest for equality in their sport.
— image credit: Cynthia Woolbright

The intensity in 19-year-old Lindsey Van’s eyes says it all: She’s ready to fly.

But, unfortunately for Van and other women in the international ski jumping community, their wings are clipped. Ski jumping is one of two sports not to have a women’s division at the Winter Olympics.

Documentarians Ruth Gregory, a South Whidbey High School graduate, and Jessica Mathews, a Salt Lake City native, hope to change the ski jumpers’ flight plan with the release of their film, “Jump Like a Girl.” The documentary tracks some of the world’s top female ski jumpers as they fight for equality on and off the slopes.

Even in the opening scene of the documentary, Lindsey Van’s fiery determination is evident. She was 7 when she launched off her first ski jump.

The documentary opens with family movie footage from 1996. It’s Jessica Jerome’s first day ski jumping, and the footage captures her first jump ever.

Jerome and her friends always built jumps to fly off when they were downhill skiing. So she figured why not ski jump and cut all the downhill time and hassle out of the picture?

While footage of a grade-school-aged Jessica plays, a voiceover of a modern-day interview begins.

A teenage Jessica Jerome — now one of the top five female ski jumpers in the world — talks about how when they were younger and first starting in the sport, everyone, both boys and girls, got the same coaching and looked up to the same ski jump idols.

The film flashes to current footage of Van.

She’s busy waxing her skis. She has cell phone in hand and is chatting away to a friend. Metallica blares in the background. As the music intensifies, so does her waxing rhythm and the conversation.

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