Ski jumping: Sarah Hendrickson will tangle with rival at championships
Sarah Hendrickson is ready for her preview of the inaugural women's ski jumping competition at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia.
She just hopes her view isn't obscured again.
The 18-year-old from Park City is scheduled to compete along with three of her teammates at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships on Friday, when she hopes to finally overshadow her top rival again in the last major event before the Sochi Games.
"In the past two worlds, I've had very poor results to my standards and I want to change that," Hendrickson said. "I would really like a medal, but I can't let that get in my head. My main focus is the technique, and if it is good I know the results will be there with me."
History suggests it won't be easy.
Japan's Sara Takanashi has won the last four World Cup events, as well as eight of the 14 contested so far this season. Hendrickson has won only two none of them in the last seven events since Jan. 12 and has finished behind Takanashi 10 times while beating her only four.
The 16-year-old Takanashi also won the world junior championship last month, while Hendrickson was sixth.
However, the championships are being held at Val di Fiemme, Italy. That's where Hendrickson won back-to-back World Cup events last season, and set the hill record by soaring 108 meters although Takanashi skipped those events.
"I love this hill and have confidence going into the comp," Hendrickson said.
Fellow Americans Lindsey Van, Jessica Jerome and Abby Hughes all from Park City also are competing at the third world championships open to women, hoping to improve from their performances at the last worlds, two years ago in Oslo, Norway.
Jerome finished 14th then, while Hughes was 24th and Van who won the inaugural world title for women in 2009 did not even qualify for a second jump, in the midst of their political battle to get their sport included in the Olympics.
Hendrickson was 16th in Oslo.
"I couldn't be more excited," Hughes said. "This was a huge goal of mine to make the worlds team. The level of competition has grown so much over the past few years, and I'm excited that I am a part of it. Everyone who has been supporting me has added so much to my confidence and motivation, and I am grateful."