Olympics: Hendrickson named to U.S. team, joining Van, Demong, others
By Michael C. Lewis
Special to The TribuneFirst published Jan 22 2014 02:01PM
World champion ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson headlined a list of eight Park City athletes in ski jumping, Nordic combined and cross country who were officially named to the U.S. Olympic Team on Wednesday for the upcoming Sochi Olympics in Russia.
Fellow ski jumpers Jessica Jerome and Lindsey Van were also named to the women’s team — Anders Johnson made the men’s team — while Bill Demong and Bryan and Taylor Fletcher were named to the men’s Nordic combined team. Liz Stephens made it in cross country.
None was unexpected.
Hendrickson is the reigning world champ who returned to jumping on snow last week, five months after blowing out her knee in a training crash. Jerome already had clinched a spot by winning a trials event last month, and Van is a former world champion and the next highest-ranked American ski jumper.
"Sarah has distinguished herself over the past three seasons as one of the world’s top competitors," said Luke Bodensteiner, an executive vice president for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. "Her accident in August prevented her from competing in the World Cup, but her subsequent rehab was effective, she’s maintained a high level of fitness and her return to the jumping hill has shown us that she’s ready to compete at the top end of her sport."
The Americans could earn one more spot in Sochi, too, if other nations fail to fill at least two spots that they have earned. That spot almost certainly would go to Park City’s Alissa Johnson, the sister of Anders Johnson, who will be making his third trip to the Olympics.
"This inaugural event is more than just three medals at an Olympic Winter Games," women’s ski jumping coach Alan Alborn said. "It is historic and a legacy that we hope will inspire more young women to engage in sport and have it be part of their lives and their family’s lives."
Meanwhile, Demong is a reigning Olympic champion in Nordic combined — the sport combines ski jumping and cross-country skiing — who won the first gold medal by an American in the sport at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He will be competing at his fifth Olympics.
He joins six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick, who already had clinched a spot at a trials event last month, and the Fletcher brothers, who have grown into the other top members of the team since Vancouver. The Fletchers are one of seven sets of siblings on the U.S. team so far. All of the Park City athletes will be medal contenders in Sochi.
Torin Koos, a University of Utah graduate, and Noah Hoffman, who spends much of his training time in Park City, also were named to the cross country team, along with star Kikkan Randall, a four-time Olympian who was born in Salt Lake City. Koos is also heading for his fourth Olympics.