Hendrickson reaches for the sky

Image & Style Magazine

American ski jumper believes she can get back to No1.

Sarah Hendrickson admits to being lost without ski jumping.

Image & Style Magazine
Sarah Hendrickson poses for a portrait at the Nansen Ski jump in Milan, NH USA on March 4, 2017.

A pioneer of the sport, she was the event’s first female World Cup champion, is a former world championship gold medallist and lies second in the all-time winner’s list.

But after some injury setbacks, the 23-year-old is confident she can attain the same heights once more.

“For these past months, I wake up and I’m like ‘what am I doing with my life?’ But once I’m at that ski jump it’s like finally everything’s paying off,” admits the American, with her sights now set firmly on PyeongChang. “Without that end destination, I feel completely lost.”

Hendrickson’s first major setback came in August 2013 and she has undergone four surgeries on her damaged knee since that point.

The last of her 13 World Cup wins dates back to just before that surgery but she is confident she can add to that tally on the global stage.

She said: “I feel like I was at my breaking point about 18 months ago when I’d undergone the two surgeries and here I am 18 months later, I have goals and I will not give up until I reach them. I’m gunning for a medal and that’s why I get up every day.

“I just have so much more in me to give to the sport of ski jumping and I think that’s how you know that you’re still in the right place.”

At 23, Hendrickson still has plenty of time left in the sport.

“It’s frustrating to think about the knee injuries that I’ve had,” she said. “If something else happens to my right knee when I’ve already had four surgeries it makes my heart want to stop because it’s so frustrating.”

But despite those apparent struggles, hers is a positive mindset for the remainder of the ensuing season.

“I know I can be the best again,” she said confidently. “I know I can be back – hopefully world champion – back on the podium every single weekend, if my body cooperates.”