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Utah’s Sarah Hendrickson soaring toward World Cup ski jumping title
Ski jumping » Park City 17-year-old closes in on inaugural women’s crown.

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And what do you know?

No sooner had Hendrickson finished her junior year at the Winter Sports School in November than she started owning the World Cup circuit. She said she "showed up at the first World Cup in December not knowing what to expect," and wound up winning.

At a glance

Ready to fly

Sarah Hendrickson and the other women ski jumpers who fought to be included in the Olympics are featured in the film “Ready to Fly,” showing at Miller Megaplex theatres in Utah through Friday. Fans can buy the film online at www.readytoflyfilm.com, with proceeds benefitting Women’s Ski Jumping USA.

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She has seldom done anything else, in nearly three months since.

In fact, her lead over reigning world champion Daniela Iraschko of Austria in the overall World Cup standings is so big — 789 points to 578 — that even if Iraschko wins all four of the remaining events (she was won two, so far), Hendrickson would need only a string of fourths and fifths to claim the title.

She has been lower than second exactly once all season.

Hendrickson said her main goal is to win the individual title at the junior world championships, since the possibility of winning the World Cup title was not even on her radar at the start of the season. Her chances are pretty good, too; her top challengers Thursday are expected to be Slovenia’s Katja Pozun and Japan’s Sara Takanashi, neither of whom has beaten her this season.

Beyond that?

Surely, Sochi.

Yes, there are the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships again next year, the third for women.

But the Olympics are always the main attraction, and the ones in Sochi will be especially meaningful considering how hard Hendrickson and her fellow jumpers had to fight to be included in them. That pioneering breakthrough resonates especially with Hendrickson’s mother, who was not permitted "to so much as look at jumping skis" when she was a teenager.

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"It just wasn’t allowed," Nancy Hendrickson said.

But things are different now.

Women can ski jump, and Hendrickson is climbing toward the top of the world.


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