As a 19 year old from Salt Lake City, UT, there is an obvious connection between Sarah Hendrickson and winter weather sports, but her sense of adventure and dominance could not easily be forecasted. Since turning 2 years old, Hendrickson has been on skis, following in the footsteps of her brother and father, and since the 2002 Winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City, she has been ski jumping, leaving her as a veteran of a rather young sport.
After taking to ski jumping, Hendrickson has set a path through the sport for all men and women to be followed. This started back in 2010, when she won a bronze medal at the 2010 Ski Jumping Junior World Championships, in turn becoming the first American of either sex to medal at the event. Following up on that event, Hendrickson turned professional in 2011, trading in textbooks for ski poles, and she has not looked back since. In only three years on the tour, she has won an astounding 13 events and finished in second or third place in nine other events, making her one of the best female ski jumpers of any ethnicity.
This status was only bolstered by the 19 year old picking up a gold medal in the normal hill ski jumping competition at the 2013 World Championships, where she beat out Japanese skier Sara Takanashi. The victory also made Hendrickson the undoubted best in the world at her craft, and had her lined up as a shoo-in to medal at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, and a favorite to again win gold.
Unfortunately for Hendrickson, a torn ACL shortly after the 2013 World Championships put serious doubt into both her mind and media pundits everywhere as to whether competing at the Sochi 2014 Olympics would even be possible. As usual, however, she beat the odds, and after undergoing surgery in August, has already returned to walking normally and is on track to participate in the first ever women’s normal hill ski jumping competition in the Winter Olympics this February.
Although normally it would be hard to bet against somebody winning a gold medal in any sport after tearing an ACL only seven months prior to the competition, there is no such doubts when it comes to Hendrickson. Simply put, she has beaten everything and everyone in her sights up to this point, and doubting her at this point would be a fool’s errand.