Skip to main content

Team USA Member Sarah Hendrickson Dishes on Flying from a 1936-era Ski Jump

Mar 22, 2017 07:08PM ● By Linda Ditch
Imagine being the first ski jumper to fly from a 1936-era ski jump in 32 years—and the last. That’s what happened on March 4, when Team USA member Sarah Hendrickson took flight from the Nansen Ski Jump in Milan, New Hampshire.

After its last use as a jumping venue in 1985, the Nansen fell into a state of disrepair. Three years ago, restoration began to renovate it for one last jump before it becomes a venue open to the public.

Sarah graciously answered a few questions about her experience on the Nansen.

Q: What did you think when you were first asked to jump from the restored Nansen?

A: When I was first asked to jump Nansen, I was super excited. It was a project about community and history, and to me, that’s one of the most important parts of the ski-jumping world. I was excited also for the media part of the release because it was something different in the traditional world I live in. 

Q: How was the jump different from the ones you take at more modern facilities?

A: As everyone knows, the hill is quite old, and as my coach and I first assessed it, we were a little worried. But by adjusting the speed and take-off slightly, we were able to execute the jump. The take-off is much higher than modern jumps, but it didn’t feel too dramatic. 

Q: Were you nervous about the jump?

A: I was nervous just because of the speed, but my coach assured me that we would take off low enough to be safe. The wind was also a bit scary, but hey—more fun and adrenaline!

Q: Why did you want to participate?

A: When we first came up with the project, the community immediately gained interest, and that assured me that I needed to do this. I love the passion people have for this sport, and this project targeted that goal. 

Q: How is your current ski-jumping season going? You were away from jumping for a while, correct?

A: It’s been a hard season. I was off the hill for 18 months recovering from a bad knee injury. I dealt with knee pain the whole season, and it never really took a turn for the better. But it’s a building year for the Olympics, and I need to be confident with the process. 

Restoration work on the Nansen should be complete by this fall, when it will be an unstaffed, passive use historical site open to the public. Visitors can climb the steps to the take-off area. On the ground, there will be signs detailing the jump’s history, as well as picnic tables. The jump’s landing area will be available to rent for special events.

Ben Wilson of Friends of the Nansen, the group behind the restoration, says, “Restoring the site is important because of its historical value. The jump played a major role in the development of the sport nationally, and it helps tell the story of the region and its culture. It stands as a symbol of pride and a community’s willingness to survive during the country’s worst economic depression.”

  For more photos click here.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Image's free newsletter to catch every headline