At just 23 years old, could U.S. ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson really retire from the sport?
After coming back from two torn ACLs — in 2013 and 2015 — and a torn MCL, it’s a very real possibility.
“It is hard (coming back at the top level),” Hendrickson said after the women’s individual normal hill final Monday. “I definitely need to take a break and re-assess to find out if I want to continue with the sport. That is where I am standing right now. I cannot risk injuring my knee again if I want to live without pain. I will see what I decide in the spring.”
Hendrickson, the 2013 world champion, once seemed to be on the path to ski jumping superstardom. Then the injuries began to pile up.
A true warrior, she competed in the Sochi Olympics, just six months after tearing both her ACL and MCL. She finished 21st in the first ever women’s Olympic ski jumping event — an event she played a crucial role in securing for women.
“It was really difficult, not just in the past couple months but years and years of training. It comes down to one day. The Olympics for me is about representing my country, showing hard work, and coming together with people from around the world. There are gold medals handed out, but you have to remember it’s all for the love of sport.”
In what could be her final Olympic appearance, Hendrickson finished 19th. After a underwhelming first jump, she bounced back in the second with an 88-meter jump, briefly placing her atop the leaderboard. All smiiles, dancing around even as she slipped down the leaderboard.
“It’s definitely not what you dream about, but I have to walk away proud,” Hendrickson said of her performance. “It’s an honor to become a two-time Olympian.”
The possiblility of losing Hendrickson isn’t the only loss Team USA is facing, though.
Fellow ski jumper Abby Ringquist completed the final jumps of her career Monday.
The 29 year old announced her retirment Sunday night in an emotional Instagram post.