Hendrickson wins first women's ski jumping title

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ZAO, Japan (AP) — American teenager Sarah Hendrickson clinched the inaugural women's World Cup ski jumping title on Saturday.

The 17-year-old Hendrickson won Saturday's first competition with two jumps of 99.5 meters to beat Japan's Sara Takanashi, who had jumps of 98.5 and 99.5 meters.

Hendrickson then wrapped up the overall title by finishing second to Takanashi in the second event with another jump of 95.5 meters.

Daniela Iraschko of Austria was third in the first event, and Ulrike Graessler of Germany third in the second event.

Hendrickson won the inaugural World Cup meet in Lillehammer, Norway, on Dec. 3 and followed that with six first-place finishes. She has an insurmountable 295-point lead in the World Cup standings over Iraschko with two competitions remaining.

"When I think back to Lillehammer, I never would have imagined I would win the overall title," Hendrickson said. "But I was able to get seven wins and that was a result of being able to jump with the same mental attitude that I had in training."

Hendrickson said she was inspired by American downhill racer Lindsey Vonn, who won three consecutive World Cup titles from 2008 to 2010.

"I admired Lindsey Vonn for winning the overall World Cup title and I wanted to follow her path," Hendrickson said. "I won the first individual event and the overall title, and it will take months if not years for this to sink in."

The International Olympic Committee last year approved women's ski jumping for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, having twice rejected its entry for Vancouver 2010, saying it lacked elite competition.

The women's second-tier Continental Cup began only seven years ago. Men's ski jumping was part of the first Winter Olympics, in 1924 in Chamonix, France.

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