World champion Sarah Hendrickson has returned to ski jumping, five months after blowing out her right knee in a crash that put her Olympic hopes in jeopardy.
For the past week, Hendrickson has been jumping on the normal hill at Utah Olympic Park in Park City under the direction of U.S. coach Alan Alborn and medical staff.
The first U.S. Olympic women’s ski jumping team will be named Wednesday. There is no word if Hendrickson will be put on it as a discretionary selection, but the news Tuesday certainly helps her bid.
“The feeling of that first jump back was one of the best sensations in the entire world,” Hendrickson said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “In the second jump, I let go of the bar and felt completely comfortable. All my nerves simply disappeared. My knee feels very good considering the situation.
“Every day in the gym, I was dreaming about the days when I would be back on the jumps. Now that I have made it to that point, it is weight lifted off my shoulder.”
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.
She walked without encumbrance by the end of October and said in November and December she was on track to take her first jumps in front of U.S. officials in January.
Women’s ski jumping will be part of the Olympic program for the first time in Sochi. At her best, Hendrickson is considered a gold-medal threat along with Japan’s Sara Takanashi.
Takanashi, who is 17 and not quite 5 feet tall, has won eight of nine World Cup events this season.