NEW YORK — World champion Sarah Hendrickson shed her knee brace a week and a half ago and remains on track for a January return to ski jumping, she said Monday.
Hendrickson, 19, tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in her right knee in an Aug. 21 crash in Germany that left her in tears. She underwent surgery Aug. 29 and showed up to the U.S. Olympic Media Summit in early October with a massive black brace stabilizing her leg.
On Monday, she walked without encumbrance into a Kellogg’s sponsor function.
“Which is not as easy as you would think it would be after walking with a straight leg for seven weeks,” she said.
Hendrickson said that she’s gotten 60 percent of the strength back in her leg over the past two weeks.
“I’m well on track for what my goal is,” she said.
And that goal is to take her first jumps in the beginning to middle of January so coaches can make an informed decision whether to put her on the U.S. Olympic Team as a discretionary selection.
The U.S. Olympic Team is expected to be composed of four women. The winner at the Olympic Trials from Dec. 28-29 in Park City, Utah, will get the first spot. The next three are due to go to the top three ranked women in the World Cup standings as of Jan. 19 or 20.
But the Olympic selection procedures include a discretionary selection clause that could allow Hendrickson to be picked even if she doesn’t have any World Cup points.
Women’s ski jumping will be part of the Olympic program for the first time in Sochi. At her best, Hendrickson is a gold-medal threat along with Japan’s Sara Takanashi.
“My body’s reacting really well,” Hendrickson said. “I’ve had no setbacks.”