Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson of Park City really wanted to win the junior world championships Thursday.
But she didn't even come close.
The 18-year-old who's ranked second in the world evidently buckled under the pressure of the moment, and allowed a disastrous first jump to doom her to a disappointing sixth-place finish while 16-year-old rival Sara Takanashi of Japan claimed her second straight title in Liberec, Czech Republic.
"Sarah didn't have the best day," coach Paolo Bernardi said, "and that's really hard for her because she's coming off a great competition in Hinterzarten [Germany] and really good training jumps earlier this week. She really wanted to be on the top today and was feeling that pressure. Her first jump was not typical at all for her level, but she came back in the second round and had a solid, good jump."
Hendrickson jumped only 89 meters on her first jump, nearly 10 meters less than usual. She soared 97 meters on her second jump, but that wasn't nearly good enough to catch Takanashi, who jumped 98.5 and 102 meters for a final score of 268 points.
Hendrickson scored 241.
"Ski-jumping is a sport in which [the] head decides," Hendrickson told Ladies-SkiJumping.com. "From this point of view, I have not managed well at all in the first round. I was overmotivated."
The event came only 11 days after Hendrickson and Takanashi each won one of the two World Cup events in Hinterzarten. It was the second victory of the season for Hendrickson, but Takanashi has won four of the eight events so far and leads the overall standings with four stops and eight competitions remaining.
The next major competition for the women's ski jumpers will be the world championships Feb. 21-22 at Val di Fiemme, Italy.