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For Team USA Ski Jumpers, Safety Concerns Bow to Olympic Determination

Julian Finney/Getty Images(PARK CITY, Utah) -- Stars from America’s ski jumping team directly addressed their concerns with security at the Sochi Olympics Wednesday, saying that it’s on their mind, but it certainly isn’t going to keep them from tackling the international competition.

“I’m watching the news, I’m reading about it. And it’s unfortunate, just something that you have to deal with and keep plugging along. And it hasn’t deterred me, hasn’t deterred anyone in my family,” 26-year-old Jessica Jerome said at a press conference in Park City, Utah, shortly after being nominated for this year’s Olympic team. “I trust that every entity involved is taking tremendous measures to ensure the safety of the athletes and the rest of the world that is coming to the Olympics as spectators.”

Fellow jumper Lindsey Van, 29, said her family will not be attending the Olympics this year, but she said security is not her top concern.

“I’m hoping everyone goes there for the right reasons and puts all the political stuff aside and focuses on the sport,” Van said. “I’m going there for those reasons to represent myself and my country and I hope everybody goes for the same reasons.”

A prominent Islamist leader in the region, Doku Umarov, last summer called on his followers to violently disrupt the Games, and southern Russia has already suffered three deadly suicide bombings in recent months, attributed to the Islamic insurgency there. Two weeks ago the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for Americans going to Sochi for the Games, calling on them to be “vigilant and exercise good judgment” due to the terrorism threat.

It’s a threat Team USA ski jumping head coach Alan Alborn said is an “unfortunate” distraction for his athletes.

“My reaction is it’s very unfortunate. It’s sad that we’re still dealing with things like this but when it comes to the Olympics, it’s all about equality and sport and fairness,” he said. “I’m very, very confident that between the International Olympic Committee, the Russian people, and every security person involved, we’ll have a very good Games and it will come off very well.”

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