Sarah Hendrickson, the first woman to win a World Cup overall title in ski jumping and the first woman to jump in the Olympics, announced her retirement from the sport Friday at age 26.
In addition to claiming the first World Cup series title in the sport in 2011-12, the Park City native won a world title in ski jumping at the 2013 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Predazzo, Italy.
“My career in the sport of ski jumping has undeniably been a dream come true,” she wrote on her Instagram account Friday. “I am forever in love with this sport and every opportunity and person it has included.”
Hendrickson was a teenager attending Park City High when women’s ski jumping became a World Cup sport. She transferred to the Winter Sports School so she could compete on the circuit and graduated in November 2012 — after winning nine events and the inaugural title.
The following season, in addition to winning the world championship, she won four World Cup competitions to take second overall behind Japan’s Sara Takanashi.
That August, a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery kept Hendrickson from the World Cup circuit and called into question her chances of competing at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi — the first to offer women’s ski jumping as an Olympic sport. She was able to return in time, however. And because she had no World Cup points, she was assigned the woman who would jump first, giving her another marker in the sport’s history.
She finished 21st out of 30 competitors.
Hendrickson also missed the 2015-16 season after reinjuring her knee. She returned to win the U.S. Olympic trials while paying for her training out of her own pocket. The win secured her a spot on the team for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang where she placed 19th out of 36 entries, the best result for an American.
A month later, Hendrickson competed in her final World Cup. Her final international competition was a 2019 Continental Cup in Stams, Austria.
“As I step away from being an athlete, my dedication to bettering the sport remains a top priority in my life,” she wrote. “I will never be too far from the ski jumping family, as I remain involved politically. Thank you to the incredible people that made it all possible. My success was fueled by my community, sponsors, fans, friends and family.”