BY SARAH HENDRICKSON
It’s hard to believe the Olympic Winter Games have come and gone — that all those hard hours of training, early nights in, health food recipes and long travel days that led up to that moment have passed. I mean, truthfully, isn’t it a little anti-climactic? I showed up to that Olympic jump with the same Nike sneakers and did the same warm-up routine as the past five years. I would say that I showed up with the same mindset but I would be lying because I completely blacked out at the top of the jump and can’t remember anything. (Whoops) Aside from that, what’s different at the Olympic Games than the other competitions? Probably the fact that you’re being watched by the whole world, but hey no pressure.
Many of you have been following my recovery since I blew out my knee in late August. For me, it was really frustrating to show up in Sochi not at my highest level. I am the current world champion and to have less than 20 training jumps for the biggest competition of my life was heartbreaking. I knew that I have to be proud for the hard work I had put in and that many people would have given up in my situation, but with a competitive athletic mind, it killed me. I showed up on Feb. 11 with a broken smile trying to fight through the pain in my right knee that was visibly swollen, and I was clearly unhappy I was hucking it off a ski jump and landing at 70 mph five months out of surgery. I tried to push that out of my head and just appreciate the experience and the fact that I was part of history regardless of the result.
My favorite part of my event was the fact that I was bib No. 1 and therefore the first woman ever to jump in an Olympic event. Ever since my injury I have been looking for the reasons why I got hurt because I believe everything happens for a reason. I think I finally found it. The bib order is decided by the world cup overall ranking and since I had not competed in any this season, I was unranked and thus first to go. For me this was a huge honor to open up the competition for a group of women who have worked so hard, not just on the athletic side but the political side. The fight for equality with women’s ski jumping to gain an Olympic event was tedious and although we have more work to do, being involved in the first one ever was monumental.
I have been home for a few days and have been reflecting on my Olympic experience. I think everyone can assume that I was not happy with my results although the things I learned through my fight back and competing in Sochi have changed me as a person. I have completely fallen in love with sport again by meeting other athletes and sharing the passion of succeeding with this exclusive group of people. I thought I would be worn out after the Games, but I am more driven than ever to get on with these next four years and compete healthy again. I have high expectations for myself in the future with world cups and world championships, and few things will stop me from achieving them. Thank you for all the support and hope you enjoyed watching us girls fly into history!