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Two U.S. women jumpers place in top 10 in Vikersund, Norway

Tue, Dec  15, 2009 - By Whitney Childers

Sarah Hendrickson and Alissa Johnson, of the Visa U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team, hit their mark on the K-105 hill in Vikersund, Norway, this weekend placing 4th and 9th . Vikersund was the second stop for the Ladies Continental Cup this season, which opened Dec. 8 in Rovaniemi, Finland.

On Dec. 12 and 13, Hendrickson took 4th and 6th place with “consistent, stable and solid jumps,” said coach Kjell Magnussen. “She’s in a really good mood and everything is going well and easy for her.”

The 15-year-old has continued the momentum of a strong summer season on the Continental Cup (COC) when she tallied four top 6 finishes. Compared to last winter season, Magnussen said Hendrickson is much more relaxed going into competition day and “she has more confidence. Now she knows she’s good enough.”

“Mainly, I’m focusing on having a good jump and thinking about what Kjell is telling me and not just thinking about the outcome,” Hendrickson said. “Last year (winter) I put so much pressure on myself and now I’m just letting go and thinking only about having a good, technical jump.”

Johnson also improved her jumps on the bigger hill in Norway, placing 9th and 11th. The 22-year-old was “really pumped” about her jumps and is looking forward to the next COC stop in Notodden, Norway, where she’ll try to beat her 4th-place finish on that same hill last season. American Abby Hughes continued to move up as well, placing 15th and 17th, and veteran Jessica Jerome placed 21st both days.

Magnussen said the jumpers are going to continue to work on consistency in every jump and maybe be a bit more aggressive in the air in order to adjust to sea-level competitions. Park City, where the women’s team is based and the athletes train, has an elevation of more than 7,000 feet.

The U.S. Ski Team did not name a U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team this year. All funding was discontinued for the program in May 2009. Women’s Ski Jumping USA, a nonprofit foundation, has assumed financial and administrative responsibility for the U.S. women’s team. The corporate sponsor for the team is Visa and the official name is Visa U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team. For more information, go to www.wsjusa.com.