If you read the local daily newspapers or watch any of the local television newscasts, you are probably well aware of the number of individuals with Minnesota ties who are participating in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. T.J. Oshie (men’s hockey), Jessie Diggins (cross country skiing), Gigi Marvin (women’s hockey), and Jeff Isaacson (curling) are just a few of the Minnesotans grabbing headlines from Sochi.
One name that you have probably not come across in local media reports is Gustavus alumna Signe Jordet ’04. Jordet was in Sochi, not to compete as an athlete, but as part of her responsibilities as Director of USA Ski Jumping.
“Being in Sochi was an incredible experience,” said Jordet who has now returned to the United States. “It was fun running into people who I have worked with at other international events. The Olympic Park was incredible and filled with people from all over the world.”
As director of USA Ski Jumping, Jordet’s responsibilities involve working with the men’s national team and on development for all clubs, boys and girls, of all ages across the United States. Her wide range of duties include marketing, fundraising, sponsorship development, event planning, and organizational operations – the type of job that perfectly suits a professional with a liberal arts background.
“Our goal is to increase participation in the sport, to help sustain programs, and be a resource for clubs to be successful,” Jordet said. “There are no typical days. USA Ski Jumping is a start-up so we are working on a wide range of planning, events, opportunities for athletes, and lining up resources for clubs across the country.”
By building the sport up from the grass roots level, Jordet and individuals on the USA Ski Jumping Board of Directors hope to improve the quality of ski jumping in the United States so that the country can become more relevant in the sport in international competition.
The United States has only won one Olympic medal in the sport of ski jumping and that came all the way back in 1924 when Anders Haugen earned a bronze medal in the large hill individual competition at the first ever Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix, France. The highest finish by any American male in Sochi was Nicholas Alexander’s 34th place finish on the normal hill. In the men’s team competition, Team USA finished the qualifying round in 10th place out of 12 teams.
Jordet’s road to Sochi and her job with USA Ski Jumping started in St. Peter where she grew up and attended high school. She majored in athletic training at Gustavus and went on to earn a master’s degree in sports management from Springfield College in Massachusetts.
During her time at Gustavus, Jordet says she was influenced by a number of people on campus including philosophy professor Doug Huff, former President Dennis Johnson, and Vice President Tim Kennedy, who was still serving as sports information director when Jordet was a student.
“Professor Huff is a crazy, wonderful man who allows students to explore, make mistakes, learn, and laugh,” Jordet said. “Dennis Johnson is just a genuinely good person who exudes the values of Gustavus. Tim Kennedy was a steady, encouraging, positive, and excellent mentor for me.”
Jordet says that what she learned from those mentors and others during her four years at Gustavus, inform her on a daily basis in her professional career.
“My time at Gustavus taught me to think about all aspects of something and to think outside the box, and yet also remember how everything is connected,” she said. “I learned at Gustavus to say ‘yes’ and accept challenges. You never know what will come next, what you will learn, or who you will meet.”