Nightly News   |  February 10, 2014

How Hendrickson Overcame Injury to Ski Jump in Sochi

After crashing at a training jump in August, Sarah Hendrickson, 19, wondered if she’d ever know what it was like to soar through the air at the Olympics.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> our final story here tonight in sochi is about a medals hopeful. a world champion ski jumper who thought her dreams just may not be realized after a devastating crash last year. it has been a long road back, a tough recovery but tonight she is here and even that is a victory. we get her story from nbc's anne thompson .

>> reporter: she goes from zero to 60 in under five seconds, chasing the thrill that hendrickson loves.

>> it is a thrill, it can't compare to anything else, that is what i love.

>> reporter: a thrill that the 19-year-old should not even know after she crashed after a training jump last august.

>> it just exploded, i kind of came to a stop and looked up at the sky and kind of knew what had happened.

>> reporter: torn ligaments, surgery's then six hour days in the gym to rebuild her knee and challenge the mental strength that made hendrickson the world's ski jumping champion. she hit the slopes at age two, trying to keep up with her older brother, nick.

>> we grew up skiing. and i was a tomboy, and i wanted to follow in his foot steps.

>> reporter: she trailed him at the park city events. then, this child of the olympics met her hero, lindsey van , who would become her coach and mentor.

>> i remember telling mom this girl will be the best in the world some day.

>> she did.

>> reporter: hendrickson would grow up to become her teammate and competitor.

>> i'm very proud of what she has done and how she has become very independent. because she was like velcro.

>> how many times have you been to europe?

>> man, i don't even know, probably 20? developing a world class determination.

>> i mean think about the pressure she has to go off that second jump. and she is the last to go and there is 35,000 fans. i mean, can you imagine?

>> reporter: it is nothing compared to fighting her way back from what could have been a devastating injury and making the olympic team with her childhood idol.

>> five months ago i don't think she thought she would make it. so seeing her up there today, it is emotional for me, too.

>> reporter: sarah hendrickson , living the motto of the olympic games , lugging the fire within, all the way to sochi , anne thompson , nbc news, sochi .