KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Questions about Sarah Hendrickson's right knee supposedly were answered a few weeks ago when it was confirmed she'd compete at the Sochi Games in the first women's ski jumping competition at the Olympics.
She's here all right, but only a shadow of her former self.
The 19-year-old defending World Cup champion from Park City, Utah, has had a challenging start in her Olympic training sessions. On Sunday, she passed on the first round of jumps, then finished 27th of 29 jumpers in round two and 23rd of 25 in round three.
On Saturday, she finished last and next-to-last in her two jumps.
Even worse, she admits her surgically-repaired knee is still hurting, making her an unlikely top finisher in the gold medal final Tuesday at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center.
Hendrickson said she requested a lower gate than the other jumpers on Sunday, meaning she will have no chance to jump as far as her competitors because of her lack of speed off the ramp.
"My coach and I decided," Hendrickson said. "I still have pain in my knee. There's no need to jump too far. I don't want to sacrifice anything."
And she said her problems might be as much psychological as physical.