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Ski Resort Life

Learning to Fly

19-year-old ski jumping Olympic hopeful Sarah Hendrickson talks family, teammates, and flying the length of a football field.

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Sarah Hendrickson is on top of the world. Well, technically, she’s soaring above it. During the 2013 season, she won the World Championship and placed second at the World Cup. Now, she’s working towards Sochi. And despite a knee injury this season that sidelined her, she’s still hoping to represent the U.S. in Sochi.

How do you think the rise in popularity of women’s ski jumping will impact the sport?

With the increase in media attention and sponsor endorsements, I am hoping Women’s ski jumping will continue to grow dramatically now that it is included in the Olympics. One of my main goals in life is to inform others about ski jumping. Many who do know about it, love it.  But not too many people know what it is—especially in the US. Getting attention leading into the Olympics will help that.

What are you thinking when you’re on the top of the ramp?

I have taken over 10,000 jumps in my life, so these days I just think about the technical things when sitting at the top of the jump. If you think about the fact that you are about to fly the length of a football field, it can get a little distracting. 

What do you do with all your medals and trophies (22-time world cup medalist, 13-time continental cup medalist, 2013 World Cup Silver, 2013 World Championship Gold, 2012 World Cup Gold)?

All my awards are with my mom at her house. We just moved out of my childhood house, so packing those up was a small task. My World Cup globe and World Championship medal are in a suitcase, which stays under her bed. 

You have “I (heart) You Mom” written on your gloves. What role does your mom play in your life and in your skiing?

Since I was little, I was very much a “Momma’s Girl.” I would rarely leave her side except for school. She has always supported me in whatever I wanted to do, and that has made me the person I am today. She keeps me humble. She constantly reminds me how important it is to be a good person. 

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Talk about who inspires you most.

The person who inspires me most is my brother. He is a Nordic combined skier (ski jumping and cross country skiing) and is also on the national team. I have never met someone who trains so hard in my life. He has always been there for me and without a doubt he is my biggest fan, best friend, and the best brother. 

You started skiing because of your brother and your Dad. How waslearning to ski with the guys?

My dad had me on skis by the age of 2, and from that day forward I was always chasing him and my brother. I have endless memories of powder days and fast “groomer” days at the Canyon’s Resort in Park City. Those memories are forever with me and made me that much better of an athlete and a person when pushing my limits.  

What are your favorite parts about training with a team?

My teammates are very competitive. We push each other everyday. We are all from Park City, Utah. It is nice to always have athletes by your side telling you to work hard when you can’t overcome something. We are also very weird and have amazingly funny times together. 

Your teammates have referred to you as “team mom.” What does that entail?

I am a very organized person and when things are dirty (rooms, vans, wax rooms) I usually take the time to clean. I guess that’s a “mom” job huh? 

What are some of your other hobbies?

I played soccer in high school, but due to my knee injury, I was forced to quit. I still try and get out to juggle and pass with friends because soccer has a special place in my heart. I think it helps with coordination and body control and that can transfer over to the ski jump. I also loved it because it was so different from ski jumping. It was a team sport. I love alpine skiing, running and biking. I grew up in Park City, so anything that’s active is perfect.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about ski jumping? 

When I was 12, my coach always told me to stay relaxed, and still today I use that simple advice every day on the ski jumps. It will stay with me forever. 

Speed Round
1. Favorite Celeb you’ve met:
 Nick Rimando (Salt Lake Real Soccer Goalie)- Such an amazing, talented and friendly guy
2. Thoughts on seeing an ad with your face:  Is this real life?  Why me?
3. Favorite Song: Learning to Fly by Tom Petty
4. Favorite Meal:  Yogurt and cereal 
5. Superstitions: I always tie my left boot first. More out of habit, but now I don’t think I could switch it up.