Back in 2010, Hendrickson won the bronze medal, making her the only American to ever medal in the Junior Championships. So far, she has been absolutely on fire this season. She kicked things off by winning the inaugural women’s World Cup opener in Lillehammer, Norway, and she’s the current overall leader on the World Cup circuit.
The most impressive part about Hendrickson’s performance, is the fact that she has accomplished all of this before she could even vote!
“This was hands down the most pressure I’ve ever felt in a competition,” said Hendrickson, of Park City, Utah after her silver-medal performance in Erzurum, Turkey. “I am super happy and very satisfied with my 2nd place.”
After the first round concluded, Hendrickson was tied with Japan’s 15-year-old Sara Takanashi. The teen jumpers went head to head in the final round which resulted in Takanashi narrowly edging out Hendrickson to win by 11.5 points. Germany’s Carina Vogt followed with a third place finish.
“Sarah and Sara (Takanashi) are the two strongest jumpers on the Earth right now. They are both shooting stars,” said Paolo Bernardi, Women’s Ski Jumping USA International Coach. “It was nice to watch a battle to win because it was such a high level of ski jumping.”
Bernardi said he was proud of his team, their performance, and their ability to handle the stress they were under this week. “Everybody stepped up and got their best results.”
Hendrickson said she struggled in training this week – trying to get used to the new hill and get her head wrapped around the task at hand.
“I’m still a junior and I wanted to really focus to keep my goals set high for Junior Worlds,” she said. “Being in contention for the overall World Cup title means that some people automatically assume I will win every competition. It’s not that easy because there are great jumpers here and everyone has the same goal, and I put a lot of pressure on myself this week.
There is a team event on Saturday where nations (consisting of four jumpers) compete against each other. The U.S. Team will not be participating since there are just three jumpers at Junior Worlds.
The World Cup women’s tour continues March 3-4 in Zao, Japan, where there will be three comps (one comp was added to make up for an earlier cancellation in Poland). The World Cup final is set for March 9 in Oslo, Norway.
2012 Junior World Ski Jumping Championships, Individual Event
Thursday, Feb. 23
Women’s Normal Hill, K95
1. Sara Takanashi, JPN, (108.5 107.5) 276.5
2. Sarah Hendrickson, USA, (105.0, 100.5) 265.0
3. Carina Vogt, GER, (102.5, 100.0) 255.5
29. Nina Lussi, USA, (84.0 80.5) 164.0
35. Nita Englund, USA, (79.5) 76.5