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Reigning world ski jump champion Sarah Hendrickson, who injured her right knee in a training crash last August, was named Wednesday to the US Olympic team for next month's Sochi Winter Games.
"WOOOHOOOO! WE ARE GOING TO SOCHI!" Hendrickson wrote on her Twitter page after the announcement by the US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA).
Women's ski jumping will make its Olympic debut in Russia and after a successful rehabilitation, 19-year-old Hendrickson will be a leading favorite to challenge 17-year-old Japanese jumper Sara Takanashi, the World Cup season leader, for the gold.
"It's pretty exciting," Hendrickson said. "I worked as hard as I could every single day so I could make my dreams come true."
That dedication and perserverance paid off with a spot on the first US women's ski jump Olympic squad along with Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome.
"Sarah has distinguished herself over the past three seasons as one of the world's top competitors," said USSA vice president Luke Bodensteiner.
"Her accident in August prevented her from competing in the World Cup, but her subsequent rehab was effective, she has maintained a high level of fitness and her return to the jumping hill has shown us that she's ready to compete at the top end of her sport."
Hendrickson, a Utah native, underwent knee surgery on August 21 and has since been undergoing physiotherapy six to eight hours a day.
She knows, however, that Takanashi is on form after wins in eight of nine World Cup events this season, telling US Olympic telecaster NBC: "Sara is jumping at a very high level right now.
"I know what types of jumps I have but I have no idea how they compare to her right now.
"I will definitely have to show up on my best day to put a competition to her because she is jumping very well."