Lindsey Van: “I dont feel like a good person to model on”


Lindley Van is a competitor who, despite her young age, since she was thirteen, has been competing on the international arena and still belongs to the top lead of Ladies Ski jumping. We invite you to enjoy an extensive interview with the talented Ski jumper. What happened last summer when, all of the sudden, your jumps turned so poor?

Lindsey Van: So poor? You make it sound so depressing? But seriously, I don’t really like jumping in summer. I don’t feel well on the inrun, I miss the feeling of balance. I also miss the automatism that I usually have in Winter. This Summer I have had maybe 5 or 10 decent jumps. Still though, the past summer seasons have been quite successful for you?

Lindsey Van: Yes, I have had better seasons, but the level of ladies Ski jumping was generally lower. Now, when there are more decent jumpers, I get a sound kicking, which is actually good. I am glad that if I make a bad jump, I take 30th place, its healthy for the development of this sport discipline. Frankly speaking, these Summer competitions don’t really matter to me that much. So you believe the level of ladies Ski jumping has grown lately?

Lindsey Van: For sure! Especially when we jump on K-60 hills, which I personally hate, since this is simply too small a hill for many competitors. However, on hills of such size, it’s even tougher to advance to the finals in case of a less successful jump. How do you manage to hold a position in the top lead for many years, while, for instance, in male Skijumping every year someone else takes the lead?

Lindsey Van: I don’t know myself, I think anyone has his times of crisis, I usually experience them in Summer, whereas I feel much better in Winter, so it’s not that hard, for me, to jump well. I also think after so many years of jumping I’ve learned to handle various problems and I know what works for me. How do you feel when you travel with you r teammates?

Lindsey Val: I like my team as well as traveling. Of course, the final travels tend to be a little tiring, but many of those girls are my best friends, so it’s nice to have them around while travelling round the world. What, according to you, has changed the most in ladies Ski jumping throughout the last couple of years?

Lindsey Van: Certainly the quality of the jumping. There are many more countries competing and all the girls have improved their techniques. Actually pretty much everything has changed for better in the sport, with the exception of the way FIS treats us. The International Federation of Ski jumping hinders our development. Holding us on K-60 or K-90 hills is simply ridiculous. It makes me very angry and its partly the reason why I’m still in this sport. Because I believe changes are desperately needed. Sometimes, when I lose all strength, I say to myself that if I don’t change this state of affairs, no one else will, and that’s what motivates me towards further jumping. What changes, then, do you think must be introduced as top priority?

Lindsey Van: Most of all, FIS must eliminate K-60 competitions from the Continental Cup. Its no fun, especially since we usually train on much larger hills. Half of my jumps this year are on K-120 yet I can’t start on hills of that size. FIS must accept Ladies Ski jumping in a much fuller degree. And what can you say about the famous fight with Annete Sagen, which we could all view on the internet?

Lindsey Van: Most of all, it wasn’t a real fight. We were best friends then. We made a bet that if one of us wouldn’t make it into the top 5, she will get hit in the face. I was stupid, let myself be hit twice and my jaw would hurt 3 weeks after the incident. I hit back on Annette but long after the incident we were friends and didn’t hold grudge against each other. It was pure stupidity but sometimes you do stupid things to motivate yourself. I think the media made a much bigger affair of it than it was worth it. Initially, when I was still in Norway, I lived with Annette and we couldn’t even leave home without everyone recognizing us, staring and showing fingers ?Ah You are the one who was knockout by Annette??. But now I couldn’t care less for the whole affair. If, however, the incident drew some of the medias to Ladies Ski jumping, it’s a good thing. Do you often have doubts about continuing your career?

Lindsey Van: This is my 17th year in Ski jumping and since 13 years I have been competing on international level, I do have some second thoughts. After this Summer, I was really frustrated, thought seriously about ending my career, but I knew that the Winter is always better for me and gave myself a second chance. But now I am satisfied with my jumping, have motivation and enjoy myself. I always say to myself that I will jump so long as Ski jumping gives me joy, but Summer jumping is a tough time for me. Maybe in the following seasons I won’t jump so much in Summer and will practice other sports instead. What do you currently do besides Ski jumping?

Lindsey Van: I study Physical Education in Utah, have worked in a supermarket also, but quit the job for the Winter. When I am at home I ski everyday, if I weren’t a Ski jumper, I would certainly do something different connected with skis. I also practice mountain cycling, running, water skis, football, everything that I can. Can you make a living off Ski jumping?

Lindsey Van: Sadly, not really. Though I have a sponsor, Visa, who pays well, I also have my own house and have to pay lots of bills. Ski jumping can only be practiced for a short period of time. For the time being I manage while connecting Ski jumping with seasonal work. However, I would much prefer to live only off Ski jumping, even if it were to last just barely, than to finish college and have a well paid job. I think I have a good life, I travel a lot, start in Ski jumping, I appreciate what I have. Many people don’t appreciate all this. Two years ago Juliane Seyfarth was undefeatable. What do you think about such young competitors?

Lindsey Van: I think if you achieve great results at a young age, you don’t really know how you do it, that’s what the good jumps come from. When at some moment all starts to go bad, you don’t know how to fix it, because you don’t have experience. Juliane was great this Summer, but then she lost it. I’m certainly very surprised that, for instance, Schlierenzaur is on top so long, I thought that after some time he would fall down. Perhaps he knows more about Ski jumping thanks to his father and good trainers. How does it feel, to be defeated by such a young competitor?

Lindsey Van: You can’t hide it, its not pleasant to get a kicking from a little girl, but it’s good for me and my sport. It makes me aware I need to work harder. What can you tell about your team’s new coach ? Kjell Ivar Magnusson?

Lindsey Van: He is really amazing, I really like working with him. He is patient and calm, gives me lots of space. We know what to expect from him, he doesn’t have mood swings or such. He is a real vault of Ski jumping knowledge. Even three years before Kjell took up our team, he had watched my performances, observed my ups and downs. So he has a lot of experience in coaching women. Do you see any great talents in ladies Ski jumping?

Lindsey Van: Yes, Sara Hendrikson, one day she will be the best in the world, you can take my word on this. She trains in USA many girls, in Steamboat there is more of them than boys. Our country has a bright future in this discipline. Do you think you are their idol and draw them into this sport?

Lindsey Van: No, I don’t think so. I think the sport itself makes little girls start jumping. If, however, they are somewhat drawn by some person, I hope it’s not me because I don’t feel like a good person to model on. What are your goals for this season?

Lindsey Van: I just want to keep on working on all those aspects which I currently work on, there are many aspects of my jumping that I have to improve. I don’t have to keep winning incessantly, I just want to keep on making decent, long jumps. One can win and fail to deliver a good jump and one can be 10th but still be satisfied with one’s jumps. I prefer to focus on making longer jumps and deriving joy from the whole activity.

Notodden, 12.12.2007