JUMPER DADS IN SOCHI: The power of the dimple for flight

By Bill Hendrickson

Asymmetrical Dimple technology and why it will come in handy in Sochi.

Dimple technology is no stranger to golf but it's new to the sport of ski jumping. Development started 19.5 years ago.  You see, my daughter Sarah was born with a deliciously charming dimple. Within seconds of her birth, there it was, an apparent joyous substitute for the usual scream that often accompanies the birth of a child.

Bill Hendrickson and daughter Sarah star in a Kellogg's Frosted Flakes ad.

The doctor was concerned with her breathing, but I couldn't take my eye off that dimple!  Sarah had no shortage of oxygen nor was she lacking the ability to summon parents, as we later found out. Her breathing was fine and the dimple endured. Little did we know how dramatically it would impact her life.

[Watch Sarah and her dad, Bill, in a Kellogg's online ad.]

Of course, the dimple came in handy for Sarah during those early development stages. Just when I would consider scolding her for climbing on things or jumping off of bunk beds, she would work that dimple, and it just melted me.  Once Sarah realized that this Dad manipulation technique was effective, she figured out that the bigger the dimple the more daring mischief could be excused.  "How can I make that dimple just a little bit deeper," she must have mused.  

So, she started working out. Yes, her discipline started early. How do you deepen a dimple swell?  Well, this was long before she had a team of medical professionals to assist her, and long before the opening of the USSA Center of Excellence. She used the tool at her disposal, a binkie. And oh how she worked that binkie!  She wore them out so fast that we bought them in packages of 3.  They invariably were misplaced, spit out, chewed, and covered with cat hair.  We had a binkie in every room, every diaper bag and in both glove compartments. And she was binkie-ambidexterous; yup, both ways. She was a bit shy, but eventually she was willing to perform for strangers  "Twirl Sarah. Now the other way." What fun.

Well, eventually the dependency on binkies became a bit worrisome.

"Nancy, Sarah is starting kindergarten in less than 2 years, and she's already skiing down Jupiter Bowl (Park City Mountain Resort), don't you think we should wean that girl of binkies?"
"Yes, we should, but you don't have to deal with the rage when she can't find one."

"Ok, then, let's make a plan. Christmas is coming. How about we tell her that we'll leave all of them for Santa alongside the cookies and carrots?"

"Great plan."

So that's what we did.  We "asked" Sarah, and she agreed, a bit too easily.  So Christmas Eve came, the binkies were left for Santa, and he took them in the morning. The first week of withdrawal was pretty tough for Sarah. The dimple subsided, but then it returned. What a parental victory it was! 

Fast forward to June 1998. Sarah had a small meltdown and was placed in time out. After the requisite five minutes, I went in to check on her. As I walked in, I saw her small hand dart out of the drawer in the night table next to her bed.

"Sarah, what was that?"

I reached in the drawer to find, yes, one last binkie! My daughter had stashed one for those just for meltdown occasions!  The good news, of course, is that those binkies deepened that single dimple so that one day it would suggest her ski jumping nickname of "Giggles," and would later encourage laminar air flow around her cheeks while soaring off Nordic ski jumps.

Watch for that dimple on February 11!

Bill Hendrickson is Sarah's dad. He lives in Park City, Utah and made the trip to Sochi to watch Sarah compete. Bill will be writing periodic blogs from Sochi.