NBC ski jumping analyst Jeff Hastings, a 1984 Olympian who’s provided commentary at every Winter Olympics since 1988, has already told EW why the sport makes great TV: “It’s an amazing piece of physics and an amazing bit of courage to do it well.” But as the women finally get their chance on the normal hill — qualifying for the inaugural women’s ski jumping event on Feb. 11 livestreams on NBCOlympics.com at 12:30 p.m. ET, followed by the final round at 1:25 p.m. ET, before airing in primetime on NBC — we should acknowledge that for them, it’s also taken some patience. In 2009, America’s Lindsey Van, now 29 and competing in Sochi, held the record at the hill where the men competed at the Vancouver Games — which means she would have been the gold medal favorite.
“If you’re totally unbiased about this, the women probably should have been in the 2010 Games, but probably shouldn’t have been in before that,” Hastings says, explaining that 2009 was the first year women had an official world championship (which Van won). “The IOC, rightly so, says, ‘Look, you need to have this many nations, and this many participants, and this big a tour before we’ll consider you as a possibility for an Olympic sport.’ [Women] pushed hard in ’02, they pushed hard in ’06, and got turned down. In ’10, you could argue that with their world championship in ’09, they really deserved to be there, but it was a tight turnaround, and in the meantime, one or two IOC people said some pretty sexist, stupid things that everybody hung their hat on as the reason why they were saying no. But long story short, they’re in now, and they deserve to be in, and they’re still going to be fighting like heck to get on the large hill in 2018. So the fight’s not over, but the first battle’s been won — and everyone’s winning in this deal.” READ FULL STORY