Wonder Boi Writes

Olympic Countdown Guest Blog – Ski Jumping

Hello, wonderful friends and blog readers.  We’re getting close now.  Can you feel the Winter Olympics nearly upon us?  We’re in our final week before the games officially open tomorrow!  Let’s take care of some fun business first and announce that Tsha is this week’s winner of either an ebook of Edge of Glory or audiobook of Trails Merge.  Just shoot me an email at Rachel_Spangler@yahoo.com and let me know which option you’d prefer.  And for this week’s contest, comment below telling me for favorite Olympic moment for another chance to win!

And now without further ado, I’ve got a special treat in store for you!  This week’s blog is an Olympic guest post from my colleague over at BSB, Julianne Rich.  Julianne knows more than anyone I know about the thrilling sport of ski jumping.  She’s also got an amazing book on the subject called Gravity, but that’s enough from me.  I’ll let her tell you more.


This blog on Women’s Ski Jumping, just like Gravity, is dedicated to every woman who has ever dared to fly free.

jPicture2A dream at Olympic gold in ski jumping. It’s a dream that’s been the exclusive property of male Olympic athletes.

Until now.

For seventeen-year-old Ellie Engebretsen, the 2011 decision to include women’s ski jumping in the Olympics is a game changer. She’d love to bring home the gold for her father, a former Olympic hopeful whose dreams were blown along with his kneeson an ill-timed landing. But can she defy the pull of gravity that draws her to Kate Moreau, her biggest competition and the girl of her dreams?

How can Ellie soar through the air when all she feels like doing is falling hard?

“A spicy novel about two young women daring to fly free in life and love while accurately depicting the thrill of ski jumping!” ~ Sarah Hendrickson, Olympic Ski Jumper and Member of the US Women’s Ski Jumping Team.

As a former competitive free-style skier, I’ve been fascinated with the sport of women’s ski jumping for some time. I’ve watched the videos of these daring athletes launch off a jump and fly the length of a football field at 60 miles per hour. I’ve admired the body control, core strength, and sheer guts it takes to participate in such a sport so when I considered writing a book about empowered women in sports, I naturally turned to ski jumping.

The fight for women ski jumpers to be allowed to compete in the Olympics, as referenced in my book, Gravity, is a very real part of the sport’s history. In 2010, a lawsuit was filed by fifteen female ski jumpers against the IOC on the basis of gender discrimination, and though the suit was defeated, public relations pressure eventually caused the International Olympic Committee to reverse their decision and allow women’s ski jumping as an Olympic sport. For more information about this incredible fight for equality, please read: https://deadspin.com/why-it-took-90-years-for-womens-ski-jumping-to-make-the-1520520342

American ski jumper, Sarah Hendrickson, made history in Sochi in 2014 when she became the first female ski jumper to ever compete in the Olympics. Though the Olympic barrier has been breached, the struggle to find equal footing continues. Currently women ski jumpers are allowed to compete in one event while their male counterparts compete in three. Funding remains a critical issue and athletes rely on endorsement money, crowd-funding, and private donations. This is especially true in the United States, where the sport does not garner the attention it deserves.

Because of the culture rich in equal parts strength and struggle, it was vitally important to me to do my due diligence and capture not only the spirit of the sport, but the spirit of the women who participate in it.

So…I climbed to the top of the ski jump in Hyland, yes – with the intention of attempting a first-person experience; however, the view from atop the K90 jump drove that thought immediately from my mind! Gravity’s book trailer will give you a glimpse into what I saw and why I chose to do the next best thing: write to Sarah Hendrickson!

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9UM73C382k&feature=youtu.be

Truthfully, I had no expectations I would hear back from a busy Olympian in training. However, Sarah is as amazing a person as she is an athlete and wrote me back, fully answered all my questions, beta-read Gravity for fact-checking, wrote advanced praise for the book, and even video-taped a greeting for my guests at the launch party.

Sarah’s greeting: https://youtu.be/irBIod2WvEo

She also taught me all the technical ins and outs of ski jumping, which greatly enhanced Gravity as seen in this excerpt from chapter four:

Time slows. Stops.

Thinking slows. Stops.

My body takes over. I spread my skis into a V in front of me and lean forward. Far, far forward. Beyond the edge of sanity and yeah, I’m not gonna lie, it’s scary as hell. Standard ski jumping equipment should include a pair of wings. Sure would help with the flying part and they might come in handy in the event a jumper lands at the pearly gates.

I reach out with my arms and hold them parallel to my body. They’re not quite wings, but they give me some stabilization as I fly. I’ve taught my upper body to stay loose in case the wind changes.

And the wind always changes.

I shift a little to my right to correct my course. My eyes stare down the knoll of the hill to the K point, the line that marks the average “par” or achieved distance on the particular jump. In ski jumping, all the difficult math is saved for calculating flight formation angles to achieve maximum aerodynamic lift. The actual scoring part is simple. Land on the K point on a normal hill, which is 90 meters, and score 60 points. Land behind the K point and lose two distance points for every meter. Land ahead of it and gain two distance points for every meter. Distance points are straight-forward. Style points, not so much. Each jumper faces five judges who award up to 20 points for style and they examine everything. How smooth the skis are during the jump, how well the skier is balanced, overall form, and whether the jumper nails a telemark-style landing. The top and bottom scores are thrown out, so 60 is the max a jumper can get for style points. It all sounds easy, but it’s hard as fuck.

I fly with the shifting wind and merge into it. Two seconds. Three. Four. I stop counting because the wind has ceased to be wind and has become my breath. I am no longer Eleanor Engebretsen. Or Ellie. Or even El. I am no longer seventeen, or made of flesh and bone, or ruled by my head or heart. I am me. Nameless and uncontainable and free.

JPicture3.pngOf course, it has to end. Nothing this good lasts forever. Bit by bit, I descend toward the ground and pull my body back in preparation for landing. I spread my arms and bend my knees as I move one ski in front of the other. It has come to this. From inrun to take off to flight time to this moment. The things that can go wrong during a landing are incalculable. Over or under correcting body rotation. An unbalanced distribution of weight. Hell, even a clump of the snow. Any number of factors can turn nirvana into nightmare in no time at all and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve wound up looking like road kill in the outrun.

But not this time.

This time the magic happens. One ski and then another, I touch down with a fluidity that tells me I nailed full points for style.

“Fuck yeah!” I drop my arms by my side and ski toward Jack at the bottom of the hill. I cut deep into the snow as I approach her and send up a sheet of slush and ice. It’s a cocky move, but I’ve earned it.

Published by Bold Strokes Books
ORDER GRAVITY: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bold Strokes Books | WorldCat
NOTE: All rights reserved by Juliann Rich. May not be reproduced without permission.

JPicture4Ski jumping is, quite honestly, the most amazing sport in the world, in my opinion, and it is sadly under-celebrated in the United States. The members of the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping team rely on private donations and sponsorship funds their road to the Olympics.

To support the sport of women’s ski jumping, please visit wsjusa.com, a non-profit organization, where you can make a 501c3 tax deductible donation.


Juliann Rich is the author of four young adult novels: SEARCHING FOR GRACE, TAKING THE STAND, and GRAVITY. She writes character-driven books about young adults who are bound to discover their true selves and the courage to create an authentic life…if the journey doesn’t break them.

She is the recipient of a Golden Crown Literary Award, the Emerging Writer Award (Saints and Sinner’s Literary Festival). She was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in the Children’s and Young Adult category and has also been nominated for the Stonewall Book Awards, Lambda Literary Awards, Minnesota Book Awards, Rainbow Book Awards, and Foreward Indie Awards. She speaks frequently on writing uncompromisingly while standing at the intersection of art and advocacy and teaches aspiring authors of young adult fiction how to craft the contemporary young adult voice in both narrative and dialogue.

Juliann lives with an adorable but naughty dachshund named Bella in a quaint 105-year old house in Saint Paul, Minnesota, she is lovingly restoring to its original beauty.

To learn more about Juliann, visit her website at http://www.juliannrich.com.




February 8, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments


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