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OLYMPICS NOTEBOOK: Injury can't ground jumper Hendrickson

by PAT GRAHAM AP Sports Writer on January 26, 2014 1:44 AM

Five months ago, American ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson crashed in a training session, tearing the ACL and MCL off the bone, along with damaging 80 percent of her meniscus.

No way to be back in time for the Sochi Games, right?

Turns out, Hendrickson’s a very fast healer.

The 19-year-old from Park City, Utah, had surgery to repair her right knee on Aug. 29, returned to

jumping on Jan. 11 and was named to the U.S. team earlier this week as women’s ski jumping makes its Olympics debut. Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome also made the squad.

“It’s a miracle, kind of,” Hendrickson said of her quick return. “You never know how your body is going to react to that. Luckily, my body responded well. I was able to get strength back and everything working again.”

Hendrickson, the reigning world champion, has no time to squeeze in any competitions before the Olympics begin. That’s all right, Hendrickson said, she’s still confident. After all, she’s won 13 World Cup events since 2011 and figures to be in the medal mix in Russia.

As for her medal chances, well, don’t discount them.

“I’m going to Sochi to compete,” Hendrickson said, “and whenever I compete, I compete to win.”


SECURITY CONCERNS: U.S. ice dancer Evan Bates is aware of the security issues surrounding the Sochi Games. He simply can’t let them interfere in his preparation.

Bates and partner Madison Chock, the national runners-up to world champions and Olympic favorites Meryl Davis and Charlie White, read and hear the news. They’re hardly in a cocoon.

“This is the most special time of our lives as athletes,” Bates said on a conference call. “We want the most positive things coming our way. Not that we are ignoring the reality, but we are so focused on our training and preparation. Our families will be traveling with us and this is a very special moment for them.

“We will not be focused on (security). We have trust in the USOC and in the Russian government. We hope nothing of that nature will happen. It is something we don’t want to be losing sleep over.”


PREPPING FOR COLD: Even if the weather in Sochi might not feel appropriate for the “winter” part of a Winter Olympics — the temperature has been around 50 degrees in the city lately — it will be colder at altitude in the mountains, where the Alpine skiing takes place.

And zipping down a slope at upward of 65 mph only adds to the chill for the athletes. So they’ll be prepared, especially for the coldest days.

Ski racers use various methods to fight the freeze, particularly when it comes to their faces. Some use Vaseline to protect their skin from the wind. Others use athletic tape to cover up, attaching it to cheeks, chins, foreheads.

There are other effects from extreme cold. Skiers say their boots get stiffer when the temperature really drops, so they travel with two types — one pair that’s stiff, one that’s soft, which they use when it’s bitterly cold.

At least there are usually little space heaters to offer a bit of warmth up near the start house during World Cup races. One member of the U.S. Ski Team revealed another trick to fighting the cold — borrowing a hair dryer from the hotel she’s staying in during World Cup stops and bringing that to the mountain. Plug it in, turn it on, and — voila! — some extra heat.

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