Olympic sports writing: 2004-2015

Selected features and interviews, plus coverage from several Olympics:


Sochi 2014

London 2012 (all Bleacher Report unless noted)

Vancouver 2010: Nordic sports and biathlon (all USA TODAY)

Beijing 2008: Everything, especially soccer (all USA TODAY)

Torino 2006 (USA TODAY)

Athlete interviews (all USA TODAY)

Sochi recap: Ski jumping, men’s team

Japan’s Noriaki Kasai continued his dream Olympics at age 41, and Germany beat Austria by an average of about 8 inches per jump.

Date: 17-Feb

Sport: Ski jumping

Event: Men’s team

Medalists: Germany, Austria, Japan

SportsMyriad projections: Austria, Germany, Slovenia

How U.S. fared: The drawn-on mustaches were cool, especially on baby-faced lead jumper Peter Frenette, age 21. They were in last place in the field of 12 after Frenette (113 meters from a lower gate) and Nick Fairall (120.5 meters) took their jumps. Anders Johnson (119 meters) was 10th in his group. Then Nick Alexander unleashed a flight of 126.5 meters to place sixth in his group, ahead of such veterans as Finland’s Janne Ahonen. That moved the team up to 10th overall. Not enough to qualify for the final eight, but not a bad results.

What happened: The leaders after the first round (all four jumpers take one jump each): Germany 519.0, Austria 516.5, Japan 507.5.

Poland, with 489.2, got a disappointing jump from double gold medalist Kamil Stoch. Slovenia, with 488.2, got a massive 133.5-meter leap from double medalist Peter Prevc.

Also qualifying: Norway (486.0), the Czech Republic and Finland. Russia missed by a wide margin in ninth place, then the USA, South Korea and Canada. The third Canadian, Matthew Rowley, fell on his landing but was unhurt, pounding the snow in frustration.

Norway put one of its best guys first, with Anders Bardal immediately pushing his team into contention. They were tied with Poland through three jumps. But Japan maintained a slight edge for third. Germany got big jumps from Marinus Kraus and 18-year-old Andreas Wellinger to move ahead of Austria by 3.4 points.

So it was Germany and Austria battling for gold, then Japan, Poland and Norway in the mix for bronze.

Slovenia’s Prevc, still just 21, put a little bit of pressure on the bronze medal contenders with a leap of 136 meters and a score of 139.0, the best to that point of the final round. Norway, which had front-loaded its team with Bardal, fell behind Slovenia. But Poland’s Stoch responded with 135 meters and a 139.8 to put Poland ahead.

Could 41-year-old Japanese jumper Noriaki Kasai, who won his first individual medal in his seventh Olympics last week, get another medal here? Yes! His score of 137.3 (134 meters) was enough to beat Poland.

Austria brought out Gregor Schlierenzauer, the highly accomplished jumper who has disappointed here so far. He jumped 132 meters for a score of 131.4. That moved Austria ahead of Japan.

Germany’s Severin Freund was fourth in the large hill. This time, he hit 131 meters. His teammates gathered and waited nervously. And it’s Aust- … oops, no, dreaded mistake by the NBC commentator. Freund was just fifth in his group, but Schlierenzauer had only taken 0.7 points out of Germany’s lead. The Germans took the gold by 2.7 points. Translating to distance points, that’s roughly 1.5 meters — less than five feet over eight jumps.

Full results

Sochi recap: Ski jumping, men’s large hill

The Olympic ski jumping venue was built with all sorts of wind-breaking measures in place, but there’s only so much we humans can do about the elements. So leave it to the veteran of veterans — seven-time Olympian Noriaki Kasai — to figure everything out and take the first individual Olympic medal of his career (he had a team silver in 1994) while normal hill winner Kamil Stoch won his second gold of the Games.

Date: 15-Feb

Sport: Ski jumping

Event: Men’s large hill

Medalists: Kamil Stoch (Poland), Noriaki Kasai (Japan), Peter Prevc (Slovenia)

SportsMyriad projections: Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria), Kamil Stoch (Poland), Simon Ammann (Switzerland)

How U.S. fared: Seems a little cruel to let someone jump and then tell him his suit is too big, disqualifying him, but that’s what happened to Anders Johnson.

Nick Fairall wasn’t too far out of the top 30, jumping 119.5 meters with a wind disadvantage to finish 35th. Nick Alexander was 48th at 111.5 meters.

What happened: Even with wind adjustments figured into the scoring, several of the top 10 ski jumpers in the world couldn’t figure things out in their first jump, taking themselves out of contention. Four-time gold medalist Simon Ammann barely made the top 30 to qualify for the second jump, while other seeded jumpers missed the cut.

Germany’s Severin Freund restored order with a jump of 138 meters in near-zero wind. Austrian favorite Gregor Schlierenzauer looked happy with his first jump, but he was 5.5 meters behind Freund and lost points on wind and style, good only for 14th.

Then it was 41-year-old Noriaki Kasai of Japan, still looking to improve on his fifth-place finish in the 1994 Olympics (normal hill). And that was his second trip to the Olympics. (This is his seventh.) He has a couple of World Championship medals in his career and plenty of World Cup wins, including one this season in a ski flying (really large hill) event. He certainly flew here — 139 meters with excellent style points — to take the lead.

Slovenia’s Peter Prevc jumped into contention at 135 meters. Then came the normal hill gold medalist, Poland’s Kamil Stoch, who leaped as far as Kasai with slightly better wind and style points.

The top three of Stoch, Kasai and Freund had a sizable gap on Prevc and a large advantage over the rest of the pack heading into the second jump.

The second jump saw a few early jumpers go all over the place — one drifted far to the left, and Russia’s Dimitry Vassiliev caught some nice wind to sail 144.5 meters. He got few style points for the landing, just doing all he could stay upright, but the crowd enjoyed the flight. Officials reset the gate a couple of jumpers later, shortening the ramp (they factor that into the scoring along with the wind).

Schlierenzauer moved up a few places on his second jump and stood third, behind Norway’s Anders Fannemel and Germany’s Marinus Kraus, until the last four took their shots …

Prevc: 131 meters from a low gate with bad wind. So certainly not the farthest jump of the round but the best so far. First place with three to go, and Schlierenzauer was out.

Freund: Not … quite. 129.5 meters in minimal wind. The totals came in, and he bent in two and hung his head when he saw the scores, slotting into second behind Prevc. That clinched a medal for the Slovenian and left the German jumper with a nervous wait.

Kasai: The grand old man of ski jumping jumped 133.5 meters and was mobbed by teammates as soon as he skidded to a halt. The scores put him first, clinching a medal at age 41!

Would it be gold, or would Kamil Stoch get the normal hill/large hill double? Stoch was a bit shorter at 132.5, and the wind was similar. Would his lead stand? Yes … by 1.3 points. Stoch celebrated while Kasai was carried off on his teammates’ shoulders.

Full results

Sochi recap: Ski jumping, men’s large hill qualifying

This round only cuts the field from 61 to 50, and the top 10 get a bye, anyway. The top 10 can take practice jumps, but the pressure’s on everyone else to take the remaining 40 spots.

Date: 14-Feb

Sport: Ski jumping

Event: Men’s large hill qualifying

How U.S. fared: Survive and advance is the name of the game, and Nick Alexander (30th, 120 meters), Nick Fairall (31st, 120 meters) and Anders Johnson (36th, 112 meters) did just that. Peter Frenette (43rd, 111 meters) did not.

What happened: Nothing of consequence, but it’s always cool to watch.

Full results

Sochi recap: Ski jumping, women’s

Thirty women made history and ignored the advice of patronizing men, demonstrating that they can compete in women’s ski jumping without crumbling into pieces or destroying civilization as we know it.

Date: 11-Feb

Sport: Ski jumping

Event: Women’s normal hill (next time, can they also do team and large hill?)

Medalists: Carina Vogt (Germany), Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (Austria), Coline Mattel (France)

SportsMyriad projections: Sara Takanashi (Japan), Sarah Hendrickson (USA), Irina Avvakumova (Russia)

How U.S. fared: In some respects, it was their day. The USA led the way in the push to get this sport in the Olympics, sacrificing livelihoods and years of frustration to do so. They were also pioneers of the sport — Lindsey Van was the first world champion in 2009, Sarah Hendrickson claimed the first World Cup in 2012 and won the world title in 2013.

And Hendrickson had the honor of going first. It was a dubious honor in some respects — she had no World Cup points, so she was essentially ranked last. But no matter. History will record her as the first woman to take an official jump in the Games.

In terms of results, it wasn’t their day. Hendrickson isn’t all the way back from a devastating knee injury. She had a decent first jump, as if to make a statement, then fell back a bit on her second. She finished 21st.

Van has declined in form since her world title. She had two middle-of-the-pack jumps, yelled “I had fun!” to the camera and moved on, finishing 15th.

Jessica Jerome hasn’t been a contender. Her second jump had terrific distance (99 meters), but her landing wasn’t as smooth as she would have liked. She finished 10th.

But the sight of Hendrickson soaring through the air was a beautiful moment. She had overcome so much just to be there. So had everyone.

What happened: The big surprise was Russia’s Irina Avvakumova, who upset Sara Takanashi in a World Cup event in January. She was off the mark in the first jump and farther off the mark in the second.

Takanashi was only third after the first jump, trailing Germany’s Carina Vogt and France’s Coline Mattel.

As the second jump moved along, the historical aspects gave way to the competition. Jumpers go in reverse order of their current standings, so the first-jump leaders can take aim at the podium with the final action of the day.

Austria’s Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, fifth in the first jump, sailed 104.5 meters in her second — six meters farther than her first. Young Italian Evelyn Insam couldn’t match that.

Then it was Takanashi’s turn. The dominant Japanese teen has one World Cup title and is in line for a second. But she was second to Hendrickson at the 2013 World Championships. And with her 98.5-meter jump, she dropped behind Iraschko-Stolz.

Mattel, often third behind Takanashi and Hendrickson, did just enough to bump off Takanashi. Each of her two jumps was a little behind Takanashi’s in terms of distance, but she had better style points and Takanashi had wind adjustments.

Vogt had yet to win a World Cup or World Championship title. Her second-jump distance was only 97.5 meters, and she waited in suspense to see if her overall total would be enough. It was.

For Takanashi and other contenders, there was Olympic heartbreak. But they’ll have more opportunities to come. They’re young, and this sport is only going to grow.

Quote: “I think our battle to get the women into ski jumping became much more than ski jumping. It really became a women’s rights issue and a human rights issue because we were really fighting for all women in all sports and hopefully all aspects of life. Hopefully we have taught other girls and other young women around the world that if you really are persistent and never give up, fight hard – hopefully you don’t have to fight – but if you do, fight fairly and well and you can achieve your dreams. So go for it. That’s what we hope. Now we have to work on 2018 getting women on the large hill and a team event. As soon as Sochi is over we start working on that.” – DeeDee Corradini, president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA (sent via press release)

Full results

Sochi recap: Ski jumping, men’s normal hill qualifying

Not much suspense in this one. The top 10 in the world get a bye, though they can jump for practice.

Date: 8- Feb

Sport: Ski jumping

Event: Men’s normal hill, qualifying round

How U.S. fared: Anders Johnson got through with ease, finishing 26th (reminder: the top 10 in the world didn’t jump for results). Peter Frenette was 35th. Nicholas Alexander took the very last spot, placing 40th. Nicholas Fairall was 50th and won’t advance.

What happened: The biggest jumps of the day went to two pre-qualified favorites: Austria’s Gregor Schlierenzauer and Germany’s Severin Freund, each at 104 meters.

Full results

2014 medal projections: Jan. 14 update

Time for a few tweaks given the results (and untimely injuries) of late — and when you add it all up, we have a new leader:

Alpine skiing: Lindsey Vonn’s absence shakes things up a bit and pretty well insures the USA won’t come near its total of eight medals in 2010. Ted Ligety (third overall) and Mikaela Shiffrin are still favorites, and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal (second overall; downhill and super-G leader) is still as dominant as ever.


  • Men’s downhill: Erik Guay (CAN) up to silver, Klaus Kröll (AUT) down to considered, Adrien Theaux (FRA) up to considered
  • Men’s giant slalom: Alexis Pinturault (FRA) up to bronze, Manfred Moelgg (ITA) down to considered
  • Men’s slalom: Mario Matt (AUT) up to silver, Ivica Kostelic (CRO) down to considered
  • Men’s combined: Pinturault up to gold, Ligety up to silver, Svindal up to bronze, Kostelic down to considered
  • Women’s downhill: Vonn out, Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) up to gold, Tina Maze (SLO) up to silver, Tina Weirather (LIE) up to bronze, Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (SUI) up to considered
  • Women’s super-G: Vonn out, Anna Fenninger (AUT) up to gold, Tina Maze (SLO) down to silver, Lara Gut (SUI) up to bronze, Julia Mancuso (USA) down to considered
  • Women’s giant slalom: Jessica Lindell-Vikarby (SWE) up to considered
  • Women’s slalom: My medal picks are currently 1-2-4 in the World Cup standings. They’ll stay put.

Biathlon: Andreas Birnbacher (Germany) has been sick, so we won’t knock him out of the projections just yet. Not too many surprises on the men’s side, though France’s relay team needs to improve. The surprise in the women’s competition is the Czech Republic’s Gabriela Soukalova, who’s leading the World Cup standings. France’s Marie Dorin Habert has a ruptured tendon in her ankle, so we’ll remove her from consideration.


  • Women’s sprint: Soukalova (CZE) up to bronze, Olena Pidrushna (UKR) down to considered
  • Women’s pursuit: Soukalova up to silver, Valj Semerenko (UKR) up to bronze, Andrea Henkel (GER) and Pidrushna down to considered

Bobsled: The early-season races in North America have skewed the current standings toward the U.S. and Canadian teams. The men haven’t done as well in Europe. Manuel Machata isn’t getting many opportunities for Germany, and Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis isn’t in great form.


  • Men’s two-man and four-man: Drop Machata from considered
  • Women’s: Elana Meyers (USA) up to silver, Sandra Kiriasis (GER) down to bronze, Cathleen Martini (GER) down to considered, Jamie Greubel (USA) up to considered

Cross-country skiing: Dario Cologna (SUI) is trying to come back from ankle surgery. We’ll leave him in for now. A couple of other skiers have skipped the odd World Cup event or the entire Tour de Ski, so the World Cup standings from this season aren’t that meaningful. One surprise: American Simi Hamilton won a freestyle sprint.


  • Women’s sprint: Denise Herrman (GER) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) up to considered

Figure skating: Most of the pre-Sochi competition is complete aside from the European Championships this week, so the projections won’t change much. The Four Continents will only have a couple of Olympians in action. But qualification and national championships have made things interesting. Ashley Wagner placed fourth, and her inclusion is mildly controversial. Evgeni Plushenko on the fringe of Russia’s plans, Japan’s Miki Ando retired after missing out an Olympic berth, and projected gold medalist Mao Asada was third in Japan’s championships. At least defending gold medalist Yuna Kim won handily in South Korea after skipping the Grand Prix season. Gracie Gold’s score from U.S. Championships would be the highest in the world this year, but would international judges be as generous?


  • Women’s: Gracie Gold (USA) considered. Miki Ando (Japan) out. Considered list now specifying the likely Russian skaters: Adelina Sotnikova and Julia Lipnitskaia

Freestyle skiing: The X Games and World Cup events may still shake things up.

Changes in aerials

  • Men: 2010 World Cup champion Anton Kusnhir (BLR) missed the 2012-13 season and has come back with a win in Deer Valley and another podium. Countryman Alexei Grishin, the 2010 gold medalist, is making a comeback and was third in Deer Valley. They’re up to considered.
  • Women: We’ll see who makes China and Australia teams. USA’s Ashley Caldwell and Emily Cook up to considered.

Changes in moguls

  • Men: Medal contenders are 1-2-3 in World Cup. No change.
  • Women: No change, though Miki Ito (JPN) is trying to come back from a knee injury.

Changes in skicross

  • Men: Dave Duncan (CAN) up to silver, Andreas Matt (AUT) up to bronze, Chris Del Bosco (CAN) down to considered, Filip Flisar (SLO) down to considered
  • Women: Katrin Mueller (SUI) up to considered

Changes in slopestyle

  • Men: Waiting for U.S. team announcement to shake things up.
  • Women: Kaya Turski (CAN) is fighting a knee injury. Devin Logan (USA) up to considered

Changes in halfpipe

  • Men: Watching health of Torin Yater-Wallace (USA). Justin Dorey (CAN) up to considered.
  • Women: Roz Groenewoud (CAN) had — you guessed it — knee surgery. We’ll see how she recovers. Devin Logan (USA) up to considered — yes, in two events

Luge: They’ve run seven of nine World Cup events this season, so that should be enough to give us a clearer picture. Still a whole lot of Germany.


  • Men: David Möller (GER) up to silver, Dominik Fischnaller (ITA) up to bronze, Andi Langenhan (GER) down to considered, Chris Mazdzer (USA) up to considered
  • Women, doubles, relay: No change

Nordic combined: Most medal contenders are having solid seasons, particularly World Cup leader Eric Frenzel (GER) and Jason Lamy-Chappuis (FRA).


  • Normal hill: Mikko Kokslien (NOR) up to bronze, Bernhard Gruber (AUT) down to considered

Short-track speedskating: No change. We’ll keep an eye on the Euro championships and make sure all the picks are healthy, but the major pre-Sochi competitions are long complete.

Skeleton: Feeling a little more bullish on Matt Antoine (USA) but not quite moving him up into the medals.


  • Men: Tomass Dukurs (LAT) up to bronze, Frank Rommel (GER) down to considered
  • Women: Shelley Rudman (GBR) up to bronze, Marion Thees (GER) down to considered

Ski jumping: He used to look like Harry Potter. Then he looked like Trevor Horn. Now he’s back — Salt Lake/Vancouver champion Simon Ammann (SUI) was third in the Four Hills. And 40something Japanese jumper Noriaki Kasai is fourth in the World Cup. In women’s, we’re still holding out hope for the rehabbing Sarah Hendrickson (USA).


  • Men’s large hill: Simon Ammann (SUI) up to bronze, Noriaki Kasai (JPN) up to considered, Anders Jacobsen (NOR) down to considered
  • Women’s: Irina Avvakumova (RUS) up to bronze, Carina Vogt (GER) up to considered, Coline Mattel (FRA) down to considered

Snowboarding: Just did the picks 14 days ago; no point in changing anything until after the X Games.

Speedskating: These picks were also recent, and the European Allround Championships didn’t give us any reason to change.

No changes in curling or ice hockey, and no changes are likely unless we have a sudden wave of injuries or other changes.

2014 medal projections: Ski jumping

Updated Jan. 14

Finally, women have broken down the gender barrier that kept them from getting Olympic status for the times they fling themselves through the air and land on the snow.

The USA fought for this event for a long time (another Olympic story I covered for some time). They’re also quite good at it, especially if Sarah Hendrickson heals in time.

Away we go …


Gold: Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria)
Silver: Kamil Stoch (Poland)
Bronze: Simon Ammann (Switzerland)

Also considered: Anders Bardal (Norway), Richard Freitag (Germany), Severin Freund (Germany), Anders Jacobsen (Norway), Noriaki Kasai (Japan), Peter Prevc (Slovenia)

2013 World Championship top 8: Stoch, Prevc, Jacobsen, Wolfgang Loitzl (Austria), Jan Matura (Czech Republic), Freitag, Ammann, Schlierenzauer

2010 Olympic medalists: Ammann, Adam Malysz (Poland), Schlierenzauer


Gold: Anders Bardal (Norway)
Silver: Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria)
Bronze: Severin Freund (Germany)

Also considered: Richard Freitag (Germany), Anders Jacobsen (Norway), Andreas Kofler (Austria), Thomas Morgenstern (Austria), Kamil Stoch (Poland)

2013 World Championship top 8: Bardal, Schlierenzauer, Peter Prevc (Slovenia), Freund, Morgenstern, Freitag, Taku Takeuchi (Japan), Stoch

2010 Olympic medalists: Simon Ammann (Switzerland), Adam Malysz (Poland), Schlierenzauer


Gold: Austria
Silver: Germany
Bronze: Slovenia

Also considered: Norway, Poland

World Cup (Nation Cup) 2012-13 top 8: Norway, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Poland, Japan, Czech Republic, Russia

2013 World Championship top 8: Austria, Germany, Poland, Norway, Japan, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Italy

2010 Olympic medalists: Austria, Germany, Norway


Gold: Sara Takanashi (Japan)
Silver: Sarah Hendrickson (USA)
Bronze: Irina Avvakumova (Russia)

Also considered: Coline Mattel (France), Anette Sagen (Norway), Jacqueline Seifriedsberger (Austria), Carina Vogt (Germany)

World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Takanashi, Hendrickson, Mattel, Seifriedsberger, Sagen, Katja Pozun (Slovenia), Vogt, Lindsey Van (USA)

2013 World Championship top 8: Hendrickson, Takanashi, Seifriedsberger, Mattel, Vogt, Jessica Jerome (USA), Sagen, Evelyn Insam (Italy)



World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria), Anders Bardal (Norway), Kamil Stoch (Poland), Severin Freund (Germany), Anders Jacobsen (Norway), Robert Kranjec (Slovenia), Peter Prevc (Slovenia), Richard Freitag (Germany)

Simon Ammann (Switzerland): In 2002, the Harry Potter lookalike stunned everyone by winning both gold medals out of nowhere. He won a bit more, then plunged into obscurity and did nothing of note in 2006. He won gold and silver in the 2007 World Championships and found consistency, winning the 2010 World Cup title. And he’s 4-for-4 in Olympic individual ski jumps in North America, winning twice more in 2010.

Anders Bardal (Norway): World Cup season champion in 2012 after never finishing higher than fifth in previous 11 seasons. Second in 2013 and won normal hill World Championship.

Richard Freitag (Germany): Youngster was sixth in 2012 World Cup at age 20. Sixth in each event in 2013 World Championships.

Severin Freund (Germany): Career-best fourth in 2013 World Cup season. Has not yet competed in Olympics.

Anders Jacobsen (Norway): Second in 2007 World Cup but hasn’t been higher than fifth since.

Peter Prevc (Slovenia): Competed in 2010 Olympics at age 17, placing seventh on normal hill. Breakthrough in 2013 with two World Championship medals and a couple of World Cup podiums on the flying hill in his home country.

Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria): Won the 2009 World Cup title at age 19. Second overall in 2010 and 2012, then first again in 2013. Two bronze medals in 2010, then large hill World Championship in 2011. Not afraid to speak up — he refused to jump in the first event of the 2014 World Cup season in protest over the decision to proceed in strong winds. Then he won the next one, making up for a poor first jump with a whopper in the second round. He’s the favorite.

Kamil Stoch (Poland): Made it to top 10 on World Cup circuit in 2011, then moved up to fifth, then third. Continued his breakout with World Championship gold on the large hill.


Sarah Hendrickson (USA): 2012 World Cup champion at age 17; second in 2013. Won 2013 World Championship. In 13 World Cup events in 2012, won nine and finished second three times. Faces a tough timeline to come back from a knee injury suffered in August.

Daniela Iraschko (Austria): One of the rare 30somethings in this sport; missed much of 2013 season with injury. 2011 world champion.

Coline Mattel (France): Fifth in 2009 World Championships — at age 13. Third in 2011, fourth in 2013. Inconsistent in 2012 World Cup season but much better in 2013.

Anette Sagen (Norway): Won five straight Continental Cup titles (2005-2009) before women earned World Cup status. World Championship best is third in 2009.

Jacqueline Seifriedsberger (Austria): Breakout year in 2013 – fourth in World Cup, third in World Championship.

Sara Takanashi (Japan): 2013 World Cup champion at age 16. Sees Hendrickson as an “icon rather than a rival.”

Lindsey Van (USA): First world champion (2009) in women’s ski jumping and one of the pioneers who led the fight for its inclusion in the Olympics. Injuries have held her back in recent years.

Monday Myriad, Feb. 25: Nordic gold! Nordic gold!

Headlines from myriad sports this week:

– Sarah Hendrickson won the world championship in women’s ski jumping.

– Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins won the world championship in cross-country skiing’s team sprint, the first skiing title for the USA in Nordic World Championship history.

– The USA also won two world titles in the track cycling world championships. Not bad for a one-woman team, Sarah Hammer.

– Slovenia’s Tina Maze clinched the Alpine skiing World Cup title with nine races left.

– The U.S. men’s freestyle wrestling team went to the World Cup in Iran, building up some diplomatic goodwill but also wrestling pretty well.

The videos, features and tweets of the week:


Myriad Questions for … Sarah Hendrickson, ski jumper

By Sarah Brunson / U.S. Ski Team

This is the first of a new series called Myriad Questions, in which we’ll try to ask athletes a few questions a little more candid than their official bios and a little less technical than the specialty sites. We’ll learn how athletes are just like us (school problems, travel issues, etc.) and not like us (climbing a rope upside-down, a pole vaulting exercise).

Up first is one of a handful of people who have shared a ski lift with me: Sarah Hendrickson, who featured in this 2009 USA TODAY story and video about women’s ski jumpers fighting to get into the Olympics. They’re finally going to the Olympics, and they finally have a World Cup circuit — which Hendrickson dominated in the debut season of 2011-12, winning nine of 13 events.

This season, she’ll be the defending World Cup champion AND a new high school graduate. Yeah, she’s that young.

She answered email while prepping for the new season and her last days of high school. Here goes …

What’s the biggest difference between World Cup competition and Continental Cup (the top competition for women before World Cup events started)?

Although the girl competitors are basically the same between the two circuits, there are definitely some major differences between the two. Obviously the media coverage with TV and reporters that are constantly at our WC’s and awesome for getting media coverage. As well as prize money, which is another bonus. As far as the first WC season and the difference between the COC seasons before, the level has gotten much high and the number of girls have also increased.

In back-to-back competitions on the same weekend in Hinterzarten, Germany, you finished ninth and first. What was the difference between the two?

The competition on day one in Hinterzarten was very weather-depending. The wind and snow played a huge role and I also didn’t jump that well technically. This happens in ski jumping and I wasn’t upset with that result.

You did some competitions outside the World Cup, including New Years Day in Calgary. What drew you there?

For New Years I had to go to Canada with the younger women’s team to qualify for World Jr. Championships based on Women Ski jumping USA standards/qualifications. It’s important to have the whole Jr. qualify at one competition so younger girls can see what they are pushing for to make the team in the future.

How did you end up doing commentary for Eurosport?

I was honored to do commentary for EuroSport after my win in Lillehammer and I honestly don’t know who asked me but it was an amazing opportunity.

You had surgery just as you went back to school. Was that aggravating?

Surgery was a huge priority this spring and although it was a bummer starting with school they understood. It was nice to have a distraction away from not training and could focus on school.

If Winter Sports School had a soccer team, would you crush everyone in the state?

It would be close to impossible to have a team but there are some talented kids that go here so it would be interesting!

How did the ACT go?

The ACT is hard and I wish I had more time to study for it. I have never been good at test taking so I struggled but truthfully I am happy it is over.

What’s your top college choice?

Since I am on the (U.S. Ski Team), Westminster is my top college pick followed by U of U.

How do you possibly have time to use Pinterest?

I love love love Pinterest! I love cooking so my main search is the food and drink!

What’s your favorite jumping hill?

My favorite hill is Lillehammer’s large hill. I have not jumped it in a few years but I have my personal record on it along with some other good memories on it

Worst travel experience?

A couple years ago we had to fly to Japan but tickets were cheaper to fly via Europe. To say the least it took about 3 days to get there since our first flight out was delayed! After sleeping in many airports and long van rides we finally made it without bags. I love Japan but it’s a long travel day(s).

If you could build a ski jump facility anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Somewhere in South America! Although this is a winter sport I don’t love the cold so a tropical location would be a nice training summer hill!

Follow Sarah Hendrickson on Twitter at @schendrickson