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Women’s ski jump team prepping for Olympic media onslaught

Women’s ski jump team fought long and hard for Olympics inclusion — and the world has noticed.

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"This whole journey, this whole fight wasn’t just the athletes — it goes so much deeper than that," Jerome said. "It goes to friends and parents and family members and sponsors and donors and fans. It’s just so far-reaching."

It’s a special situation for a special team. They’ve already had a documentary air about their struggles for Olympic inclusion. They’ve been tabbed by some as the "Fab 5" of the Sochi Games like the popularized group of U.S. gymnasts who won gold in London last summer.

At a glance

VISA Women’s Ski Jumping Team

Fab 5 » All five members of the nation’s women’s ski jumping team hail from Park City, each growing up learning to soar at the Utah Olympic Park where jumpers competed in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Utah.

Yes, they can » After years of struggle for inclusion in the Winter Olympics, the members of the VISA Women’s Ski Jumping Team finally were given the green light in April 2011 when the International Olympic Committee gave the sport an opportunity to be included in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Flying high » Sarah Hendrickson, the 18-year-old American phenom, won the inaugural World Cup circuit in 2012, winning nine of the 13 events. Fellow jumpers Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome finished in the top 10 on the World Cup circuit in 2013.

Necessary funds » Ski jumping isn’t cheap. The organization holds its annual fundraiser to raise $100,000 for the upcoming season. This year’s fundraiser will be held July 18 at the Deer Valley Resort Montage. The athletes will be in attendance. For tickets or a way to donate, go to www.rallyme.com/rallies/94.

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As Van said, they’re a collection of five "extremely different personalities" who are together for essentially 11 months out of the year. There are times when they’re cramped in small rental cars and ensure the hotel-room carousel keeps spinning, so the team chemistry stays high and doesn’t get stale.

"Our individual successes are team successes," Johnson said.

But there is an inevitable issue that awaits the family of ski jumpers. There are four designated spots for the Americans in Sochi, but five senior members and other youngsters who could force their way onto the Olympic team with a strong showing this winter.

It’s yet another battle they must endure.

"Doing it," Hughes said, "is about all we can do."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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