First or second in all but one World Cup competition this year, Sarah Hendrickson of Park City, Utah, capped off her historic season by clinching the overall women’s ski jumping title on Saturday in Zao, Japan.
In the first season of the women’s World Cup, 17-year-old Hendrickson was the champion. She won Saturday’s first competition with two jumps of 99.5 meters to beat Japan’s Sara Takanashi, who jumped 98.5 and 99.5 meters. Hendrickson went on to place second to Takanshi in the second round with another jump of 99.5 meters.
Hendrickson started off the inaugural World Cup season with a victory in Norway on Dec. 3. She proceeded to win six more after that.
“When I think back to Lillehammer, I never would have imagined I would win the overall title,” Hendrickson told the Associated Press. “But I was able to get seven wins and that was a result of being able to jump with the same mental attitude that I had in training.”
She told FIS News that she understood the significance of the overall World Cup win, especially in regards to the growth of women’s ski jumping.
“But I will need months or even years to realize what it really means,” Hendrickson said.
U.S. women’s ski jumping coach Paolo Bernardi couldn’t have picked a better athlete to win it.
“She deserves this 100 percent,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. “She’s been the most consistent jumper all season and sometimes she dominated the events.
“She did something crazy for a 17-year-old,” Bernardi continued. “She left on Dec. 27 for two months on the road and she competed at the highest level possible. She deserves all of her achievements. It’s incredible.”
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Alex Kochon (email@example.com) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.