Sarah Hendrickson's gold medal dreams effectively ended when she tore her ACL and MCL in a bad crash late last year. The knee injury has limited the jump lengths of the 19-year-old American and Hendrickson will have to compete in Tuesday's event jumping from a lower gate.
Despite that disappointment, Hendrickson will still head home with an Olympics to remember because she'll be the first woman to ever take an official ski jump at a Winter Games. Despite being an event for men since the first Winter Games in 1924, this is the first time ski jumping has been an event for the women.
I am bib number one today. That means I will be the first girl EVER to ski jump in an Olympic event. ALL SMILES :)— Sarah Hendrickson (@schendrickson) February 11, 2014
Hendrickson is well aware of the fight that it took for women to take their rightful place at the top of the hill. For many years, women ski jumpers were good enough to test out hills before the men jumped, but not good enough for a competition of their own. They faced discrimination and ridiculous medical claims from their opponents, including the insistence the jumps would harm their reproductive systems.
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In 2008, Hendrickson's American teammates Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome took part in a lawsuit that sued the Vancouver Games for the right to compete in 2010. While the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled they could not force the IOC to add the event, some progress had been made.Women's ski jumping was officially added for the Sochi Games in 2011. (For a great primer on that battle, check out this article in the Boston Globe.)
The significance of the barrier she'll be breaking is not lost on Hendrickson.
Three women ski jumpers will walk away with medals today but 27 others helped make history. And THATS what we have to be proud of.— Sarah Hendrickson (@schendrickson) February 11, 2014
The women's ski jumping event starts at 12:30 p.m. ET. Watch it live here.
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