Sarah Hendrickson is a 2013 world champion ski jumper for Team USA. She competed at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, where she finished 21st after tearing her MCL and ACL six months prior.
Ski jumping beginnings
Hendrickson was born August 1, 1994 in Salt Lake City and by age 2, was on skis. Her father, a former ski jumper himself, got her started right before the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. Hendrickson also played varsity soccer for two years in high school.
Major competitions/ medals
Hendrickson won gold at the world championships in 2013, and continued the U.S. ski jumping team’s tradition of a champagne toast after a victory. She set herself up as a gold medal threat at the 2014 Olympics, which were the first Games that women’s ski jumping was included in the program.
But at a practice six months before the Games, Hendrickson tore her ACL and MCL, taking her out of medal contention. She still competed, and finished 21st overall.
In 2015, Hendrickson finished on the podium at two World Cup stops. She placed sixth at the world championships. Over the summer of 2015, Hendrickson tore her ACL again. Her mother, Nancy, quit her job in order to support her daughter’s ongoing recovery process.
Hendrickson finished 23rd at the 2017 World Championships, dealing with ongoing pain and severely restricted training time. She had surgery following the end of the season to clean up her knee and prepare for the Olympic season.
Hendrickson became the first-ever women’s World Cup overall title winner in 2012.
She won a silver medal at the 2012 Junior World Championships and a bronze medal at those championships in 2010.
Hendrickson was the first woman to ever ski jump in Olympic competition, when she was assigned bib #1 in Sochi. For Mother’s Day in 2014, Hendrickson gave her mom her #1 bib from Sochi.
“You’re flying for a few seconds. That’s obviously the most fun part. You adjust your arms, feel how that affects the wind against your body to create that lift until you touch down and ski out. It’s pretty hard to explain. It feels like anything is possible at that point. Time slows down.” Sarah Hendrickson, describing the feeling of ski jumping
“She’s a competitor. When she’s her best, she can be the best in the world, hands-down.” – Billy Demong, executive director of USA Nordic and 2010 Nordic combined Olympic gold medalist
Hendrickson finished 21st at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Outside of training
Despite the fact that Hendrickson would be an older student, she still wants to attend college in the future, possibly to study exercise science or physical therapy. She says that opportunities for her sports career will end, but the opportunity for education lasts a lot longer. Plus, she adds, she has learned from traveling the world and negotiating contracts.
Hendrickson met her long-term boyfriend, freestyle skier and 2014 Olympian Torin Yater-Wallace, at a sponsor event leading to the Sochi Games. When some of Hendrickson’s ski jumping teammates left early, Hendrickson stayed for the Closing Ceremony and was quickly absorbed into the men’s halfpipe crew, even joining them for pizza.