Sarah Hendrickson, an 18-year-old from Park City, Utah, has won the women's ski jumping title at the Nordic world championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
Hendrickson, who trains at the private Winter School in Park City, outdistanced Japan's Sara Takanashi with a best of 347 feet 9 inches and a combined score of 253.7 points in the inaugural event.
The 16-year-old Takanashi, who won the junior world championship title last month, finished with 251 points and Austria's Jacqueline Seifriedsberger took third with 237.2 points.
Hendrickson, who was sixth at the junior championships, said landing a good first jump is key to her success.
“The first jump is really important for me mentally,” she said. “If I can have a good first jump, I know I can have a good second jump. If I have a hard first jump sometimes I mentally shut down, so that was really important for me.”
Women's ski jumping will be featured for the first time in the Olympics during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“I had confidence on this hill and I knew I could have good jumps,” said Hendrickson, who dominated the 2012 season with 12 World Cup wins. “But standing at the top of the first round, my heart was beating and everything was shaking and I didn't know if I could pull it off. But obviously I pulled together two good jumps.”
Hendrickson seems quite grounded in other aspects of her life, particularly being a teenager.
“I love living a typical high school life with the kids from my sports school," Hendrickson said in her biography on the U.S. Ski Team website. "It's always fun to hang out with people my own age and do teen activities that sometimes get taken away from me when I travel.”