The feeling of that first jump back was one of the best sensations in the entire world. —Sarah Hendrickson
PARK CITY — The reigning women’s ski jumping champion Sarah Hendrickson is flying again just five months after a devastating knee injury and surgery threatened to keep her from competing at the Olympics.
“The feeling of that first jump back was one of the best sensations in the entire world,” Hendrickson said in a press release from U.S. Ski and Snowboarding. “On the second jump, I let go of the bar and felt completely comfortable. All my nerves simply disappeared. My knee feels very good considering the situation.”
While the question about whether Hendrickson could recover before the 2014 Winter Olympics has been answered, it’s unknown whether she’ll be named to the first-ever U.S. women’s ski jumping team until a press conference Wednesday.
That’s when team officials and coaches will announce the three athletes who will join Park City’s Jessica Jerome, who secured her spot by winning the team’s selection event last month in Sochi, Russia.
Hendrickson’s recovery was intense but carefully monitored and very methodical. She worked with doctors and coaches every day as she tried to recover from a torn ACL and MCL, which occurred in training last August. The Park City resident's first jumps last weekend were at the Utah Olympic Park.
“Every day in the gym, I was dreaming about the days when I would be back on the jumps,” Hendrickson said. “Now that I have made it to that point, it is weight lifted off my shoulder. I, of course, didn't do this alone. My medical team, coaches, and all my supporters pushed me to make this possible and I can't thank them enough.”
Alan Alborn, head coach of the U.S. women’s ski jump team, said Hendrickson’s return to jumping just weeks before the sport’s inaugural appearance in the Winter Olympics is impressive.
He praised both of the 19-year-old’s patience and hard work.
“Sarah has done an outstanding job of taking baby steps every day,” Alborn said. “She has exceeded everyone’s expectations and continues to do so.”