TODAY   |  March 02, 2013

Women’s ski jumping set to make Olympic debut

"For 20 years you hear no, no, no, and then one day it's yes,” said ski jumper Lindsey Van. Less than one year away from the winter Olympics in Russia, childhood dreams are coming true for women who have trained their whole lives to compete on the world stage. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> just less than a year from now the winter olympics get under way in russia. and they will feature six new sports including women ski jumping . kate snow introduces us to one woman who fought hard to change the game.

>> reporter: at 28, lindsey van is training to do something no woman has ever done before.

>> my parents always told me, you know, do anything you want. and if anybody told me i couldn't do it, oh, yes i dcan. let me show you. i'm a very stubborn person. so that never went over well.

>> reporter: this is lippedcy as a young girl . video from a new documentary about women 's ski jumping called " ready to fly ."

>> my goal is to make the olympic team.

>> reporter: since the very first winter olympics back in 1924 , there was a ski jumping event, men only. oh, it's not that women couldn't perform. as far back as the 1860s there were women jumpers. they did it in skirts. now women compete all over the world just not at the olympic level. lindsey is on the u.s. women 's ski jumping team and was the very first women's world champion . over the years, there have been a lot of explanations for why women weren't allowed to jump in the olympics. in the '50s, it was believed that a woman's uterus was so delicate jumping would cause infertility. a belief the president of the ski federation john franco casper expressed as recently as 2006 .

>> it is like jumping down about two meters on the ground about 1,000 times a year which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.

>> reporter: the official reason given was that women 's ski jumping just wasn't established enough yet but lindsey and her teammates suspected the real worry was that allowing women jumpers would make the sport seem less daring and macho.

>> you're good, kido.

>> reporter: this mwoman was mayor of salt lake city when she hosted the olympics. she doesn't realize that women ski jumpers were being left out of the game. when lindsey van told her, she became the biggest cheerleader.

>> from the very moment i heard it, i felt it was discrimination.

>> reporter: at the 2010 vancouver olympics approach, van and 14 other jumpers from five countries sued for discrimination. but while one court agreed with the women , they lost on appeal.

>> i thought that they would go the other way.

>> i think we embarrassed them enough that they could not afford to keep us out any longer.

>> in 2011 , the u.s. women 's team gathered around the phone to listen in on the olympic announcement of what new events would be included in the 2014 games in russia.

>> they decided to introduce six new events for the games. the women 's ski jumping --

>> for 20 years we hear no, no, no. then one day it's yes. and, you know, just didn't seem real.

>> the one thing i care about most in 2014 is to see those athletes including lindsey walk into that stadium as olympians. it will be just one of the happiest moments of my life.