Sarah Hendrickson, courtesy of WSJUSA.com
U.S. team of teens gains experience with 8th-place finish
LIBEREC, Czech Republic — Sarah Hendrickson led the U.S. women to an 8th place finish in the Team Event at Junior World Championships on Saturday, breaking the hill record along the way and proving her mettle as one of the best in the world.
Slovenia won the Team Event by more than 200 points over France. Germany was 3rd.
Hendrickson jumped 106 meters, besting the current hill record of 104.5 meters set last year by 2011 World Champion Daniela Iraschko, of Austria.
“Honestly, I woke up this morning just thinking I was going to go far today. I felt like I was going to go 106,” said Hendrickson, 18. “I just went back to the basics today.”
She had come into the individual event on Thursday hoping to win gold to round out her 2010 bronze and 2012 silver Junior Worlds medals.
She placed 6th – a successful result for any other athlete, but not quite satisfying for the determined 2012 World Cup champion. She let the pressure get into her head, she said, and it flubbed her performance.
“Sarah is the kind of athlete that can fix everything in a fast way when she’s relaxed,” said Coach Paolo Bernardi. “She was focused and happy today and that enabled her to jump at her level. She was back to normal.”
Saturday’s Team Event marked the first time the U.S. fielded a team for Junior Worlds; two years ago, the event was canceled because of weather, and last year the U.S. had only three jumpers.
“We were happy we finally were able to participate in the Team Event at Junior Worlds,” Bernardi said. “It really helps show our development program in the U.S. and gives a chance for our younger jumpers to get valuable experience at this level.”
Blake Hughes, former elite jumper and current development coach at Park City Nordic Ski Club, assisted Bernardi this week in Liberec. Development programs with Women’s Ski Jumping USA and ski jumping clubs across the country continue to see more young girls taking up the sport — and sticking with it.
For Hendrickson, she said she can leave Liberec now and “walk away with a smile on my face.”
The World Cup team now travels to Japan for two events in Sapporo (Feb. 2-3) and Zao (Feb. 9-10).
Junior World Ski Jumping Championships
Liberec, Czech Republic
Normal Hill Team Event– HS100
Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013
1. Slovenia, 1,009 points
2. France, 787
3. Germany, 762
4. Norway, 759.5
5. Japan, 726.5
6. Russia, 650
7. Czech Republic, 647.5
8. USA, 617
• Sarah Hendrickson, USA, (96.5 meters, 106)
• Emilee Anderson, USA, (77.5, 78)
• Nina Lussi, USA, (72.5, 73.5)
• Manon Maurer, USA, (50, 47)