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Sarah Hendrickson
Olympic Ski Jumper Sarah Hendrickson

Olympic Ski Jumper Sarah Hendrickson on Fame, Injuries and Being a Role Model

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Sarah Hendrickson

Olympic Ski Jumper Sarah Hendrickson

Editor’s Note: We now have a sports category on Reel Life With Jane! Lisa Iannucci writes the inaugural post below, talking with 19-year-old Olympic ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson from the games in Sochi, Russia.

The Olympics are filled with so many memorable moments, and this year’s Winter Olympics from Sochi are no exception. Last week, the United States Men’s Slopestyle Skiing team swept the podium with gold, silver and bronze medals. However, even though athletes come to the world games with the goal of winning, creating a memorable moment and being heralded a hero, it doesn’t always come with a coveted award.

For ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, the Olympics didn’t go quite the way she planned and she won’t leave with a medal, but her memories and her place in history will never be forgotten. Women’s ski jumping made its debut at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and Hendrickson was the first woman off the mountain.

Hendrickson began skiing at the age of two. Her father, Bill, is a former ski jumper and after watching her brother ski jump for two years, Hendrickson was no longer content to just sit on the sidelines. Last year, Hendrickson also made Team Kellogg, a team of athletes who work with Kellogg’s to teach kids how to eat right and Hendrickson is proud of her new role.

What does it mean to you to know that young girls are watching you and what you’ve accomplished and they want to be like you?

“It means the world to be because I want to be successful and be the best I can be in this generation of ski jumpers, but I also want to reach out to young girls and boys and show them to find something they are passion about too.”

Your dad and teammate Jessica Jerome’s dad Peter founded the nonprofit Women’s Ski Jumping USA. “Jumper Dads at Sochi” is a blog by the dads who came to watch their daughters make history at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. What did it mean to you to have your dad as part of your journey and the leadership role he took with this nonprofit and blog?

“Kellogg’s was a huge support to me, and my dad and I bonded teaching me how to ski, so it’s nice to be able to take what I’ve learned – including how nutrition is important — from him and share it with other kids. It’s pretty awesome.”

How’s your knee?

“I have to say, it’s giving me a bit of pain, but I had a lot of supporters to get me to Sochi, so I pushed through the pain and the discomfort. There are six more World Cups between now and the 2018 Olympics, so I’m going to let my knee fully heal. I’m only five months out of surgery, so I’ll go home and rest, and I’m focused on the next four years before Korea.”

How do you handle your newfound level of fame?

“I don’t think it’s hit home yet since I’m still at the games, but I accept the new role of those who are looking up to me.”

Who have you idolized in your journey?

“(Olympic gymnast) Shawn Johnson. I’ve looked up to her ever since she made her debut and was the darling of the Olympics and everyone fell in love with her and her story, even though she had better results than I did.”

What would you do different going forward to 2018?

“Obviously, my injury changed my plans going into Sochi and I couldn’t control that, but I trained my butt off. I gave it 100 percent and the results weren’t what I wished they would be, but it’s not easy to be the best on the world stage. These Olympics have been important for young women because we are on the lower side of sports compared to guys and that’s changing dramatically and that’s awesome to see.”

Lisa Iannucci

Lisa Iannucci is co-host of Sports Palooza Radio (@paloozaradio on Twitter) with EJ Garr and writes the Retro Lisa column on Reel Life With Jane.

Lisa Iannucci has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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