Jan. 31, 2010 — Sarah Hendrickson of the Visa U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team captured the bronze medal Saturday at the FIS Nordic Junior World Championships in Hinterzarten, Germany.
The 15-year-old Hendrickson, who attends junior high in Park City, Utah, is the first American jumper to ever earn a medal at the Nordic Junior Worlds.
“I don’t think it’s really settled in yet. I’m really happy. I had two really good jumps,” Hendrickson said.
Italy’s Elena Runggaldier took the world championships gold medal with jumps of 106.5 and 102 meters and an overall score of 267.5 with style points included. France’s Coline Mattel earned silver (103.5, 102, 258.0). Germany placed four jumpers in the top 11 to lead the way, but the top seven finishers were all from different nations, reinforcing the continued universality of women’s ski jumping.
“I didn’t realize how big of an event this was. It’s huge,” said Hendrickson, who competed in the first FIS World Championships for women’s jumping last February, where her teammate Lindsey Van captured the title. “It reminded me of World Championships, but without the older girls. It was exactly the same.”
Visa U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team members Nina Lussi and Nita Englund also jumped Saturday. Lussi finished in 27th place with jumps of 84.5 meters and 85.5 meters and a score of 173.0, while Englund finished outside the top 30, posting a jump of 80 meters to just miss qualifying for a second jump.
Hendrickson, currently the top American in the Continental Cup standings in sixth place, overcame the postponement of the event from Friday’s scheduled time, inconsistent wind and intermittent snow showers to post jumps of 102.5 meters and 97.5 meters on the K-95 hill. She finished with a score of 249.5
Hendrickson said she didn’t jump well in the pre-event warm-up, but her first competition jump was “one of the better jumps I’ve ever had.”
In the second round I was just trying to do the same thing,” she added. “It’s a great hill; It’s a K-95, and the hill crew who put it together was amazing. There were men constantly packing it out and putting it together.”
Hendrickson said some of the jumpers may have benefited a little more than others with the inconsistent winds Saturday, and a 15-minute snow squall in the middle of the competition probably threw some of the jumpers out of rhythm.
Runggaldier’s win, Hendrickson said, was somewhat surprising because she hadn’t jumped well in practice and had recently been struggling on the Continental Cup. Mattel, however, had been jumping very well recently, finishing second in the Continental Cup event on Jan. 23 in Schonach, Germany.
As for Hendrickson, she hopes to take some momentum into the remainder of the Continental Cup season, which resumes Feb. 6 in Slovenia.
“Now, I can tell myself I can have two good jumps in a row and I can do it at a pretty high level. I can do it in a Continental Cup,” she said.