PARK CITY, Utah — Eighteen-year-old Sarah Hendrickson leads a team of four into the 2013 Junior World Ski Jumping Championships after a stellar World Cup performance in Hinterzarten, Germany.
Hendrickson, Nina Lussi, 18, and Manon Maurer, 16, of Park City, and Emilee Anderson, 17, of Eau Claire, Wisc., will represent the U.S. in Liberec, Czech Republic, in the individual jumping competition on Thursday and in the team competition on Saturday.
Just two weekends ago, Hendrickson snagged a first and second on the World Cup circuit. With a Junior Worlds silver (2012) and bronze (2010) already in her arsenal, Hendrickson said she definitely is aiming for gold this year.
“Obviously this is not going to be easy because Sara Takanashi (of Japan) will be there and her jumping is really strong,” Hendrickson said. “There are a number of other girls that are highly competitive right now and it’s going to be a tough competition.”
Takanashi, 16, is ranked No. 1 in the world and Hendrickson is No. 2. The two teens battled last year with Takanashi taking the Junior Worlds gold and Hendrickson winning the overall individual World Cup title.
Alan Alborn, Head Program and Development Coach, said the Juniors team is strong this year and represents the most experienced and accomplished of jumpers to the up-and-coming bright stars.
“Sarah is looking to be on the podium. Nina has gained valuable experience on the World Cup this year and we hope to see her in the top 20,” Alborn said.
Lussi, from Lake Placid, N.Y., attends school at Skigymnasium Stams, in Stams, Tirol, Austria — which focuses on balancing skiing and academics. Lussi said she’s excited about this competition and feels comfortable with the hill.
“I have competed in Liberec twice. I also was fortunate enough to spend four days training there this past October, so I feel very well prepared,” Lussi said. “I have seen and jumped alongside the best in the world and know exactly what I am up against.”
This is Anderson’s second international competition. Last year she placed ninth in the first ever Youth Olympic Winter Games.
“We hope to see Emilee Anderson in the top 30,” Alborn said. “This is Manon’s first ever trip to Europe to compete and we’re looking for her to gain valuable international experience in the individual and team comps.”
For Hendrickson, she’s especially looking forward to the team event on Saturday.
“This is the first year team USA will have four jumpers since they have added the team event to Junior Worlds and I am really excited to compete,” she said. “It's hard to say what the results will be because other teams such as Japan, Germany, and Slovenia are quite strong, but regardless it is going to be an awesome event.”
Competition gets under way at 7 a.m. EST.