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Hendrickson plans return after historic leap

Sarah Hendrickson of the U.S. soars through the air in her trial jump during the women's ski jumping individual normal hill event of the Soc
Sarah Hendrickson of the U.S. soars through the air in her trial jump during the women's ski jumping individual normal hill event of the Soc

By Keith Weir

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - American teenager Sarah Hendrickson wants another shot at Olympic gold in 2018 after making history as the first woman ski jumper to compete at the Winter Games.

"This is the beginning of a journey through hopefully at least one more Olympics, if not two," the world champion told Reuters.

Hendrickson, whose preparations were hampered by a knee injury, finished 21st in the normal hill competition on Tuesday, with the gold medal going to Germany's Carina Vogt.

"I loved competing yesterday and it's weird to have it be done and over, I just want more," she added.

For Hendrickson and the women ski jump rivals who followed her down the ramp, the Olympics really were as much about taking part as winning after a long fight to compete at the Games.

For years they were told the sport was too risky, that there were too few top-class women competitors, or even that the impact of landing could damage their fertility.

A group of U.S., Canadian and European women fought an unsuccessful lawsuit for the right to compete at the last Olympics in 2010 before the IOC eventually allowed them to compete in Sochi, Russia's first Winter Games.

"I think we blew the crowd away and blew the world away that our level of competition was so high," said Hendrickson, part of

a U.S. team backed by credit card company Visa.

While delighted to get the chance to jump at the Games, Hendrickson wished she had become the first Olympic champion.

"Of course I'm disappointed, I wanted to be that first girl with gold," she added.

Some of that disappointment was evident in a Tweet last night.

"Ya I didn't win a medal... you can judge me all you want but you'll never know how hard I worked to jump compete today as an Olympian," she said in the message.

She hopes that her Olympic appearance will encourage more American women to follow her into the sport.

Hendrickson's father and brother were both ski jumpers and she took up the sport at the age of seven after the Games were held in her home state of Utah in 2002.

She plans to stay in Sochi until the end of the Olympics and then take some time off.

"I personally don't want to jump until I don't have knee pain any more, which could bring me into the summer season," she said.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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