World champion visits St. Paul Ski Club for a training camp

Sarah Hendrickson
Sarah Hendrickson

An event the kids won't soon forget

She looks like an ordinary 20-year-old. But looks don't count when you clamp on a pair of skis at the top of a 90-meter ski jump.

Sarah Hendrickson recently graced the slopes of the storied, 130-year-old St. Paul Ski Club at its Nordic site near Carver Lake in south Maplewood.

She was in town to head up a three-day, June 26-28 training camp. Some 40 kids, ages 8 to 16 from the throughout the Central Division of the United States Ski Association, were on hand to glean the knowledge of the world champion and 2014 U.S. Olympian.

As one ski club pundit stated, "The camp ran slicker than skis over the hills' plastic lining."

Boys and girls from Coleraine, Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as from Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois, and Iron Mountain, Michigan, came to the camp.

Hendrickson won the women's Nordic World Ski Championships in ski jumping in Italy in 2013 at the age of 18 and competed at the Sochi Olympics. So how did she end up at a training camp in Maplewood?

"Our women's coach Alan Alborn suggested I come to a camp here. He is an amazing guy who is working with the women's team and with kids out there in Park City (Utah)," Hendrickson explained.

Alborn is the head coach of the U.S. women's ski team.  He grew up in Alaska and set a U.S. distance record of 215 meters -- that's 705 feet -- in Obertsdorf, Germany, back in 2001.

Hendrickson is a native of Park City, Utah, and began her ski jumping career at the age of 7.

"The 'World' title was the highlight of my career so far," she said.

"I set a hill record. I had the two longest jumps of the day and came out on top. To do that with my family there was very special.

"You sacrifice so much. You train so hard and try to be healthy. But when you come out on top, it makes it all worthwhile.

"Also being here in Maplewood is special for me. This is such an old ski club with so much history in the sport. It gives me the opportunity to give back to the sport. I like to share my love for the sport with other kids.

She added, "The ski jumping sport has given me so many opportunities. I want to share those experiences with the kids and show them that anything is possible.

"We've had a great turnout for the camp. This area has facilities that are absolutely sufficient enough to train kids.

"I just hope that I can influence some kids to keep going and hopefully see them someday in the Olympics," Hendrickson said.

Although she's only 20, she has competed in numerous World Cup competitions throughout Europe, and, of course, the Olympics.

One of the training camp participants, 9-year old Adaline Swanson, has been ski jumping since she was 2 years old. When asked what it meant having Hendrickson at the camp, she replied, "It was really cool. I thought she did a good job telling the kids what we need to work on.

"Each day she would work with each kid. I think it was really impressive that she took the time to come to our ski hill and hold a camp."

Before Hendrickson left for home, she gave each participant an autographed T-shirt and signed the helmets of several of the children.

Hendrickson made everyone feel right at home and was an impressive representative of the women's ski jumping program here in the United States.

Quick takeoffs

Here's an interesting trivia item: each year at the District IV American Legion Baseball banquet a boy is named the Most Valuable Player  of the Year. Back in 1973, now assistant coach of the NORTH ST. PAUL 39ers, JEFF MOTZ, was the recipient of that MVP honor. Little known fact is that in second place for the honor of MVP of 1973 was first-year MINNESOTA Twins manager PAUL MOLITOR. Great going "Motor"! . . . Kudos to SOUTH ST. PAUL native, former STILLWATER High School boys' coach, now assistant coach for the NHL NASHVILLE Predators, PHIL HOUSLEY, for recently being inducted into the NHL Hall of Fam ! . . .  Hey RUTH you hang in there!

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7826.

 

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