SOCHI — What sort of man lets his daughter leap off the side of a mountain?
The. Best. Dad. Ever.
Way back in 1994, Peter Jerome was at home in Utah when his 7-year-old daughter asked a question: Would it OK if she learned how to ski down a ramp at 50 mph and jump the length of a football field?
"My mom said, 'No,' and my dad had a vision of the 'agony of defeat' from the 'Wide World of Sports,' " said Jessica Jerome, when I inquired how a kid goes about getting permission to participate in an extreme sport invented nearly two centuries ago.
Her father said: Yes.
And that's how one of the great battles in gender equity at the Winter Olympics began.
At age 27, Jessica Jerome will join U.S. teammate Sarah Hendrickson and other gold-medal hopefuls when ski jumping finally takes off Tuesday as a certified Olympic sport for women after a long, contentious fight for inclusion in the Games.
When Jessica Jerome was a child, her father bought a nonprofit-for-dummies book and organized bake sales to establish Women's Ski Jumping USA from scratch. As recently as 2005, however, the International Ski Federation president declared the sport inappropriate for ladies. Female competitors filed a lawsuit and knocked on the door until the Olympics finally let them on the 90-meter hill for these games.
"The gender-equality fight to try to get women's ski jumping on the level it is now was essentially started by my mom complaining that something needed to change and something needed to be done, then shooing my father out the door to get started," Jessica Jerome said.
The Olympics are the best proof in the world there's nothing more beautiful than a strong woman.
The greatest gift any father can give his daughter is the belief in a future without limits. Anything's possible, whether it's beating prejudice or defying gravity, both of which female jumpers will do when they point their skis down the ramp.
Why is Peter Jerome the best dad ever?
He raised a daughter to believe she can fly.
Mark Kiszla: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/markkiszla