Sleeping giant: Sarah Hendrickson takes final flight on fabled East Coast ski jump |

Sleeping giant: Sarah Hendrickson takes final flight on fabled East Coast ski jump

World Cup ski-jumping champion Sarah Hendrickson launches off the 80-year-old Nansen Ski Jump in New Hampshire. The jump, which was the first in the United States, has fallen into disrepair after its final formal event in the 1980s, but locals like Hendrickson are fighting to preserve it as a monument.
Red Bull / Special to the Daily |

Editor’s note: Interested in the history of ski jumping in Summit County? Read on for the story of Frisco’s hometown jump.

Milan, NH — In honor of International Women’s Day today, Sarah Hendrickson — the first woman ever to ski jump at the Winter Olympic Games — once again soared into the history books by taking the final flight on the famed Nansen Ski Jump in New Hampshire, according to a release from Red Bull.

Constructed in 1936 and home to the very first U.S. Olympic trials, the Nansen Ski Jump has not seen flight in 32 years. To pay tribute to the historical site, New Hampshire State Parks and the Friends of Nansen recently restored the jump to make it functional for one final flight. Anna Hoffmann, a member of the Women’s Ski Jumping USA junior team, joined Hendrickson for the monumental final jump, the release continued.

Hendrickson is one of the most accomplished American ski jumpers in the sport’s history — and she’s just 22 years old. She won the first-ever women’s World Cup title in 2012 and has consistently been a top-ranked ski jumper since then. She recently returned from a series of injuries and currently sits in 14th place in the World Cup rankings. The American foundation for the sport she loves was forged in New Hampshire by her parents, Bill and Nancy, where they were known as standout skiers at Plymouth Regional High School. To this day, New Hampshire remains as the only state in the country where ski jumping is a high school sport.

“Women’s ski jumping is definitely growing.”Sarah HendricksonFirst woman to ski jump at the Winter Olympic Games

“Ski jumping was once a huge part of the community here, and I can really feel that when I am here,” Hendrickson said. “People are incredibly excited about this project and having the Nansen jump restored as a historical landmark. It’s truly an honor to come back and jump here.”

Originating in Norway as a discipline of Nordic skiing, ski jumpers descend from a large takeoff ramp and jump from the end to fly as far as possible. In competition, the scoring system combines distance with style points. These massive ski jump structures, typically built into hillsides, can reach up to 600 feet in size. For almost 50 years in the sport’s history, the Nansen Ski Jump was the most notable freestanding jump in the United States. After playing host to its last event in 1985, the jump fell into disrepair following years of neglect, and the historical site project aims to preserve this piece of American ski history.

“Women’s ski jumping is definitely growing,” Hendrickson continued. “There are a lot more competitors and countries involved in the sport than eight years ago. I’m looking forward to the U.S. trials and hopefully going on to represent my country again on the biggest stage at the Winter Olympics in South Korea next year.”

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