World champion Sarah Hendrickson has successfully returned to training, five months after sustaining a knee injury, as she bids to make the US women's ski jumping team for next month's Winter Olympics.
The 19-year-old has been jumping the 90-metre hill at Utah Olympic Park in Park City under the direction of head coach Alan Alborn and US Ski Team medical staff.
Hendrickson injured herself training in Germany last August, and in her absence Japanese star Sara Takanashi, 17, has been blazing a trail, leading the World Cup ahead of her sport's Olympic debut.
"I can FINALLY tell the world I am ski jumping again!!!!" Hendrickson said on Twitter.
Speaking to usskiteam.com, she added: "The feeling of that first jump back was one of the best sensations in the entire world.
"On the second jump, I let go of the bar and felt completely comfortable. All my nerves simply disappeared. My knee feels very good considering the situation."
Takanashi, who has won eight titles from this season's nine World Cup events so far, said: "It is raising my motivation to see an athlete I admire come back."
"I want to do my best. There are many things I must do before the Olympics. I want to achieve each and every one without fail," the diminutive Japanese athlete told reporters at Tokyo's Narita airport before leaving for two World Cup events at the weekend in Slovenia.
Hendrickson, a Utah native, underwent knee surgery on August 21 and has since been undergoing physiotherapy six to eight hours a day.
"Every day in the gym, I was dreaming about the days when I would be back on the jumps. Now that I have made it to that point, it is weight lifted off my shoulder," she added.
The US Ski and Snowboard Association will announce Olympic nominations for the first-ever women's ski jumping team on Wednesday.