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When world champion ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson crashed last August in Germany, she thought her chances of competing in Sochi had ended as well.

"I laid at the bottom of the hill and thought everything was over. My dreams of being an Olympian were over," Hendrickson said Wednesday after being named to the team, along with Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome. A fourth woman could be added later this week if other countries don't fill their quotas.

Five months after surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee, and countless hours of rehab since, Hendrickson will be in Sochi, where women's ski jumping will make its Olympic debut.

"It was the hardest thing I ever had to do," Hendrickson said of the six to eight hours of daily rehab. "But I had a lot of people there to help me along." Hendrickson returned to ski jump training at the 90-meter hill at Utah Olympic Park in Park City last week.

"I've never seen someone work so hard," Jerome said.

Hendrickson, 19, is taking limited practice jumps and won't compete again until Sochi. Though her knee is sore after jumping, she said it's "nothing that's going to hold me back."

Before she was injured, the reigning world champ was considered a gold medal contender. But Japan's Sara Takanashi, 17, has won eight of nine World Cup events this season and will be tough to beat. The Sara of the East vs. the Sarah of the West showdown, as one Japanese journalist dubbed it on Wednesday's teleconference call, might not materialize.

"Sara's jumping at a very high level right now," Hendrickson said. "I know what types of jumps I have, but I have no idea how they compare to her right now."

On Feb. 11, she'll find out. Fittingly the sport's future sat alongside the two veterans who fought so hard for Olympic inclusion for the last decade. After Jerome's father, Peter, bought a Non-profit for Dummies book, Women's Ski Jumping USA was formed in 2003. That tiny, cash-strapped non-profit built a powerhouse program launched Van to its first world championship in 2009 and then Hendrickson to the title in 2013.

"Thanks to them, I'm sitting here today," Hendrickson said.

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