Witnessing Olympic History

By Emily Ridlington, Sports Media Canada Special Correspondent and International Olympic Committee Young Reporter

For 14 young women, their ski jumping at the Winter Youth Olympic Games was anything but ordinary and has put them in the ¥outh Olympic record books.

This is the first time ladies’ ski jumping has been a part of any Olympic Games.

Youth Olympic Female Ski Jumpers

The contest at Seefeld Arena was intense with gold going to Japan’s Sara Takanashi.

“I’m very proud,” the 15-year-old said, adding “when I jumped the first time I didn’t have such a good feeling so I wasn’t really sure if I’d be able to win.”

Takanashi jumped almost the length of an Olympic size swimming pool and at a speed greater than you can drive a car in most cities. All of that and she’s only about five feet tall.

I can’t imagine what it’s like standing at the top of the run looking down knowing you have to lift off, have perfect form and then land successfully. For someone familiar with downhill, cross country and kite skiing, this event takes technique to a whole new level. There is no room for errors.

Germany’s Katharina Althaus came second and Slovenia’s Ursa Bogataj was third.

“I’m very happy because my dreams came true,” Althaus said.

For me this was an amazing moment to experience. As a young woman myself I felt nothing but pride knowing these athletes’ sport and passion are being recognized at the international level — putting them on an even playing field with male athletes. A comparison could be made with female journalists working in the sporting world. While there are many, there are still challenges.We have made amazing strides and there is more distance to cover. There are definitely more male journalists here covering the Games as was the case in Singapore at the Summer Youth Olympic Games.

Takanashi is going to go back to Japan as a hero and she will be an inspiration to all athletes as she broke through a barrier. She joins an elite group.

Whether or not these athletes realized how special this occasion was, the whole world is now watching them and is waiting to see at where their careers will take them.

It is certain these young women are ready to soar.