Sochi Olympics Ski Jumper Lindsey Van: 5 Awesome Facts About The Superstar
Lindsey Van is just an all-round badass. The ski-jumper has been working for more than a decade to compete in the Olympics, and in just a few days' time she'll finally get her chance. The Detroit-born, Park City, Utah-raised athlete hasn't had her dreams thwarted by injuries or missed opportunities. What's been holding her back is the Olympic rule-book. Before Sochi, women were not allowed to compete in ski jumping. And it's thanks to Lindsey Van's courageous and sustained effort that the sport is where it is today.
Here's what you should know about what makes the 29-year-old athlete so darn great.
SHE WAS THE FIRST EVER FEMALE SKI JUMPING WORLD CHAMPION
Van took part in and won the ski jumping competition at the 2009 World Championships, which was the first World Championships to welcome women as competitors in ski jumping. To date she has also won 16 national championships.
SHE'S THE REASON WOMEN CAN SKI JUMP AT SOCHI
Not surprisingly, Van was pretty bummed when she couldn't compete in the Winter Olympics in her home state of Utah in 2002. By the 2010 Vancouver games, she'd really had enough. She led the charge in a gender discrimination lawsuit against the organizers of the 2010 games to allow women to compete. Unfortunately, that time around she was unsuccessful, but the International Olympic Committee did agree to include women's ski jumping in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, as long as women demonstrated Olympic-caliber ski jumping at the 2011 World Championships. She helped make sure that happened.
SHE'S A TWIN
Van has a twin brother named Brandon. When they were kids they used to ski together, and when Van was seven, she discovered her love of jumping. Van and her twin brother even have complementary tattoos. She has one on her right foot that says "STARBOARD" and Brandon has one on his left foot that says "PORT."
SHE ALMOST GAVE IT ALL UP TO SAVE A LIFE
Van's former roommate and Olympic hopeful Seun Adebiyi was diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma and needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. Van wasn't a match for Adebiyi, but he inspired her to join a bone marrow registry. Just before the 2011 season, when she was due to prove the validity of her sport to the Olympic committee, she found out she was a match for a man in San Francisco. She decided to go ahead with the donation, even though it might have caused her to miss a competition. Fortunately for Van — and the entire women's ski jumping world — she managed to fit the donations around her competitions. The man she helped is now in remission.
SHE HAS TWO ADORABLE KITTIES
OK, so I'm just assuming they're hers by the amount of times she's Instagrammed them, but they're adorable either way. They're called Newman and Kitty. So. Cute.