For the high-flying women of the Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team, this mantra is about much more than athletic competition; it describes how they responded to one of the most pervasive examples of gender discrimination in modern sports history. For years, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made one excuse after another to deny these fierce women an international platform. The jumpers, in turn, refused to accept anything but inclusion. In April 2011 the IOC relented, finally giving both the US team and women ski jumpers everywhere the chance to do what men have done since the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924: spread their wings and fly. On these pages, three members of the all–Park City native US team—Abby Hughes, Jessica Jerome, and Alissa Johnson—show off not only their indefatigable personalities but also one of this season’s hottest skiwear trends: bold black-and-white color pairings and graphic patterns. Good luck in Sochi, ladies.
We know you'll do Park City proud.
Twenty-four-year-old Abby Hughes started ski jumping when she was just 7 and plans to do so until her body tells her, “No more, Abby. You’re done.” Her brother Blake, a competitive ski jumper for 15 years, is now an assistant coach for the men’s USA Ski Jumping Team.
Black and White and Rad All Over
Nine-time national champion Jessica Jerome is halfway through an economics degree from Salt Lake City’s Westminster College, a major she chose for the same reason she’s kept at ski jumping for the past 19 years. “I didn’t hate it and am kind of OK at it,” she says.
Between the Lines
Ski jumping is in Alissa Johnson’s (left, with Hughes) blood. Her brother Anders jumped in the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games; her dad, Alan, is athletic director for USA Ski Jumping (the national men’s team).
Last summer Hughes adopted a puppy. “He’s some kind of heeler, shepherd, Lab, herder, toy-destroyer mix named Cash,” she says.
Prints & Repeat
Johnson spends most of the winter competing overseas, but on those rare occasions when she’s home and there’s snow on the ground, she hits the slopes. “I grew up on the mountain,” she says, “so it’s always been a place where I can go and find myself.”
In the Spotlight
What Hughes likes least about ski jumping are the tall jump towers. “I’m still getting over my fear of heights,” she says, and she doesn’t find skiing to a stop much fun, either: “It means I have to wait through a chairlift ride or long stair climb before I can do it again.”
The “waiting game” is the hardest part of ski jumping for Jerome. “Ski jumping competition is full of postponements and schedule changes, usually because of weather,” she says. “Something going wrong is just part of the deal.” One of her favorite ways to decompress is to hang out with her two cats, Dr. Doom and Kaneohe (named for the Hawaiian town where Jerome’s parents found the once-stray).
Jerome (left) and Johnson are tight on and off the hill. Both work as servers at Main Street’s Bandits’ Grill & Bar in the off-season.
Chev Your Engines
One of Johnson’s fondest ski-jumping memories occurred in Oslo: during a competition, a non-English-speaking bus driver started taking the team back to their hotel when he was supposed to deliver them to the top of the jump. “After we were all convinced we were being kidnapped, the driver finally realized we weren’t going back to the hotel dressed in our jump gear and took us back to the jump,” she relates. “Thankfully they held the competition for us.”
Styling by Tessa Woolf; Hair and Makeup by Gabby Gabbitas