American woman will leap into history books in Sochi

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ST. LOUIS - Tonight American women will compete in the Olympic Ski Jump event for the first time in history.

It's been a long and dedicated fight for female inclusion in this thrilling event and tonight it finally happens in Sochi.

NewsChannel 5's Pat McGonigle interviewed American Olympic ski jumpers Jessica Jerome and Lindsey Van.

First question: Why has this been a men's only event?

"You know, we've heard a lot of reasons, but I think one of the most ridiculous reasons that was given to us was that it wasn't appropriate for girls from a medical point of view," Jessica Jerome, 27, says, smiling broadly.

The ski jump, which has athletes zooming down the ramp at speeds as high as 80 mph and then launching into the air at distances longer than a football field, is one of the most terrifying athletic spectacles in the history of sports.

Second question: How do you start in this sport, as a beginner?

"Lindsey Van and I started when we were too young to know any better," Jerome jokes. "But you take baby steps. The hillside we'll be going off in Sochi is a size 95. And the size hill you start on is a five or a ten. So it's gradual, it's building blocks and gradual over the years."

Third question: Aren't you worried about wiping out?

"Yeah, It's part of the process of being an athlete," Lindsey Van, also 27, answers. "It's an extreme sport but, we've been at it twenty years and we're still at it. It's safer than a lot of sports and it's a lot of fun."

Fourth question: What are you thinking when you're soaring through the air? Are you making adjustments in midair or are you just along for the ride?

"You're just trying to stay focused and stay balanced as possible," Van replies. "And try to jump as far as you can so you're just looking down on the hill where you want to land and just enjoying the ride."

Fifth question: Are you worried about security in Sochi? Are your parents going?

"I put a lot of faith in the United States Olympic Committee and they're working closely with other entities, you know the Russian government," Jessica Jerome answers. "And it's in everyone's best interest to keep all of the athletes and all of the spectators as safe as possible, I feel pretty confident."

"My family will be watching from a cozy couch in Park City, Utah," Lindsey Van says.

Sixth question: Do your parents get nervous watching you do jumps?

"No, it's a very safe sport, it's one of the safest sports in the winter olympics," Lindsey Van answers. "It doesn't look safe, but it is. You should have your daughters try it. "

Answer to Sixth Question and Seventh and Final Question: Well, I'll think about getting my girls out there. But how about this; would you bring back a Gold Medal for all of us back here in the states?

"Ok, I'll do it just for you Pat," Jerome answers.

19-year-old Sarah Hendrickson rounds out the trio of women ski jumpers who will make history, either way, in Sochi on Tuesday.

Japan's Sara Takanashi, 17-years-old, is considered the favorite in the women's ski jump event.

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