Parkite ski jumpers on top of the world
Despite her dominant individual performance during the inaugural women’s ski jumping World Cup season, 17-year-old Park City resident Sarah Hendrickson said it’s always been about a team-first mentality.
Hendrickson won nine of the 13 World Cup circuit stops this year and secured the coveted World Cup champion’s crystal globe. However, she said her superb season would have never come about without the help of her family, coaches and, most importantly, her teammates.
"We’re all super close and really good friends," she said. "We see each other more than we see our families, so to see achieve such a huge award is really monumental. To share it with some of your best friends, it’s just amazing."
While Hendrickson clutched the crystal ball in the circuit’s final stop in Oslo, Norway, Saturday, her teammates joined the celebration. The likes of Alissa Johnson, Jessica Jerome, Lindsey Van and Abby Hughes helped lead the United States to the No. 1 overall finish in the Nation’s Cup standings.
"It hasn’t set in yet. It’s just really so cool, especially for ski jumping in the USA we’re just not known for that," said Van in a release. "This is about an entire team’s results over the course of a season and I’m proud of our team for this victory."
And the results weren’t even close as the group of Parkites helped guide team USA to more than over 600 points over second-place Germany.
"We knew we had done it," Jerome said. "It was really cool. I don’t really have the words for it."
"For quite a few years now, the U.S. has had a really strong team, so I don’t think that was a big surprise to all of us," Hendrickson added. "It’s definitely amazing to get that award. There were a lot of other teams that showed they were strong, but we all knew we could do it from the beginning."
Jenny Holden, executive director of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, who was in Oslo to see the athletes celebrate the championship, said all the years of perseverance finally paid off.
"It was amazing," she said. "The girls have worked so hard over the last year well, many years, but in particular this last year to work through adversity and to get to this level. It’s just a culmination of all their hard work and to see it to see Sarah winning overall and the team they’ve just worked so hard to become a team."
When the Park City residents celebrated as the best ski jumpers in the world, Holden said her memory began replaying the times of sacrifice by those involved with women’s ski jumping.
"It’s really a joint effort with all our sponsors who have been with us through thick and thin, all the amazing volunteers and board members and families and friends and parents," she said. "And with a shoestring budget that Women’s Ski Jumping USA has, we’ve really had to rely on the gracious parents and the selflessness of people."
Now that the World Cup season is over, Hendrickson said she’s looking forward to a break. After two-and-a-half months in Europe for competitions, she said she’s excited for the warm weather and to go back to school.
"It wears you out a little bit," she said. "Everybody needs a break every once in a while."
As for her crystal globe, Hendrickson said she doesn’t know where it will end up.
"I guess it will be on the dining room table for a little bit," she said, laughing.
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