With world champion Sarah Hendrickson still recovering from a knee injury, the women on the U.S. women's ski jumping team struggled in their first World Cup of the season in Norway on Saturday.
None finished higher than 19th in Lillehammer, and the Americans finished a distant 13th in the mixed-team event.
"Competition was hard tonight," jumper Jessica Jerome said. "A couple years ago, you could get away with making more mistakes and now you can't get away with making any mistakes. That's a good thing because it means our sport is really growing."
Indeed, the event featured the largest start list ever for women's ski jumping, some 70 jumpers from 14 countries. But the Americans until now have led the way, and their disappointing results could be worrisome with the 2014 Sochi Olympics just two months away.
All of the women on the team are from Park City. Jessica Jerome finished 19th, former world champion Lindsey Van was 22nd, Abby Hughes was 36th and Alissa Johnson was 37th. Coaches said nerves were a problem, after strong jumps in training and the trial round.
Reigning overall World Cup champion Sara Takanashi of Japan typically, Hendrickson's top rival Â won the event, followed by former world champion Daniela Iraschko of Austria and 14-year-old Gianina Ernst of Germany. Hendrickson hopes to be able to resume jumping next month, but remains an uncertain bet to compete in Sochi.