Sapporo, Japan—Sarah Hendrickson (above) placed 5th and 8th respectively at the second and third World Cup ski jumping competitions of the 2015 season in Sapporo, Japan this past weekend. Hendrickson landed jumps of 95.0 and 88.5 meters on Saturday, January 10, 2015 and 90.0 and 93.5 meters on Sunday, January 11, 2015.
“I was really happy with my 5th place finish on Saturday and felt a big improvement in my confidence compared with the competition in Lillehammer,” said Hendrickson. “The wind was a bit of a factor on Saturday, but was much more challenging on Sunday. Personally, I felt that my jumps were technically really good, so I am looking forward to the next World Cup competitions.”
Her teammate on the U.S. Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team, Nita Englund, placed 20th on Saturday with jumps of 85.5 and 79.5 meters, but moved up to 11th place on Sunday with jumps of 86.5 and 85.5 meters, a career best.
“I am having a great time in Japan and I feel that my jumping is getting closer. My results are beginning to reflect all my hard work,” commented Englund. “The conditions were difficult during the entire weekend, but I just kept trying to execute normal jumps and overall it worked pretty well.”
Jessica Jerome, placed 13th on Saturday with jumps of 93.0 and 85.0, and 12th on Sunday with 87.0 and 86.0 meters, illustrating the intense competition that has been building in women’s ski jumping since inclusion of the sport in the Sochi Olympics last year.
“Sapporo has once again challenged the team and athletes with adverse and changing wind conditions this weekend,” said Head Coach Alan Alborn. “Although the conditions were more challenging than normal, Nita Englund walked away with her career best result, alongside strong performances from Sarah Hendrickson and Jessica Jerome. Tara Geraghty-Moats captured her first World Cup points after returning to the sport after several years off due to a serious knee injury. There is room for improvement, as the season is still early leading into Falun in February. These trips to Japan will always be difficult for our team due to the amount of travel required to get to Japan and then immediately fly off of a ski jump. The competition next weekend in Zao, Japan should offer a more level playing field, since all the athletes will have acclimated to Japan’s time zone.”
With a home country crowd for support, 18-year-old Sara Takanashi of Japan soared to first place on Saturday with jumps of 97.0 and 98.0 meters and took first again on Sunday with jumps of 87.0 and 97.0 meters.
The competition was held under partly cloudy skies and varying wind speeds, with 49 athletes competing. The athletes indicated that wind gusts and shifts were a significant factor during Sunday’s competition. The conditions were frustrating since each jumper experienced different wind speeds and, despite wind compensation points, tracking the wind conditions for each jump was difficult.