Q&A with Sarah Hendrickson
Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson explains her elephant collection and sets the facts straight about her sport
What do you remember about the first time you tried ski jumping?
I remember a lot of cold training nights when I was young. My best friend and I would actually hide in the bathroom to make the time go by because we were so cold! But at the end of the day I always loved going to ski jump and my mom never forced me to go, always self-driven.
What’s your earliest memory of the Olympics?
I watched the 2002 Olympics in my home town of Park City. I don’t remember much about the ski jumping, but I went to para-hockey and thought it was the coolest, most talented thing I had ever seen.
What’s the coolest or most intense part about ski jumping?
The feeling of sitting at the top and going into the jump and forgetting about anything else. I love the feeling of getting in my inrun.
What’s the hardest part about ski jumping?
The weight/ body mass index rule
What’s a misconception about ski jumping that you want to clarify?
It’s actually VERY safe. It’s an old sport so we have everything dialed into data and safety zones. We measure speed and wind and everything so it’s very rare that we fall. Maybe once a year... which is a lot less than other skiing sports.
Do you have any fears before you jump?
Do you have any fears away from competition?
Fire alarms and moving water (rivers, waves)
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
No champion ever has it easy.
What would you tell a child starting ski jumping for the first time?
Stay patient and dedicated. This sport can be very frustrating but if you don’t enjoy it you will never be successful. When you have fun, you fly the farthest.
Did you do any other sports as a child?
Used to play soccer, yoga, mountain and road biking, Pilates, running
Are there any Summer Olympic sports you would like to try out?
What would people be surprised to learn about training as a ski jumper for the Olympics?
Your job is 24/7. Everything you do relates to your training, whether you’re working out, eating, sleeping, walking, or resting. It all relates to the end product – and that can get very stressful.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I’m freakishly organized but then I forget things... One time I left my skis in Finland...
What do you eat in a normal day?
Breakfast: Banana with yogurt and tea
Lunch: Smoothie with fruit and protein powder
Dinner: Salad with protein (like chicken, beans or steak)
Snacks: Apples, granola
What about your diet on your indulgence days?
Dinner: Definitely a cheeseburger
Snacks: Dang coconut chips
Dessert: Ice cream and chocolate
Did anyone ever tell you that you wouldn’t succeed? How did you prove them wrong?
I had some people tell me that coming back from my knee injury would be impossible (in 2013, I crashed on a large hill, destroying my right knee and have now had five surgeries to try and get it to feel normal again). But I love proving people wrong. I have always been a small quiet person that went unnoticed for so many years specifically through high school.
What’s your favorite perk of being an Olympic athlete?
Knowing in myself that I made it to the highest level
Describe your pre-competition rituals. Are you superstitious?
Chewing gum on warm up, I tie my left boot first always, deep breath before I push off the bar. I just have a routine and never break it.
What do you do to unwind after a competition?
Read, watch TV shows, and talk with my mom and friends
What do you like to watch on TV?
Big Bang Theory, House, Seinfeld
What’s your favorite movie?
Dumb and Dumber
Do you have any lucky charms?
Small gifts from my mom, they always change but I always have something from her.
Do you collect anything? How did it start?
Elephants. It started when I bought a "lucky elephant" one night in Poland, the next day I won my first international competition.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an athlete?
Describe your perfect day off.
Walking and hiking, sunshine reading, cooking a healthy meal, them eating ice cream
What do you have to keep in your bag on training days?
Red Bull water bottle, Granola bar, extra gum, Nike shoes, Nike top and sweatshirt, headphones