American Sarah Hendrickson is one of the more recognisable athletes within the US contingent in Korea at the moment. Identified as a 'rising star' form the age of 17, when she won the first ever World Championship, Sarah has enjoyed an incredible career (even though she is only 23!!), which sees her take in her 2nd Winter Games.
We had a few minutes with Sarah to quiz her on her nutrition ahead of her performance at the 2018 Winter Olympics...
Ahead of a competition, what sorts of food/snacks are you having? What sorts of things could you have ahead of a World Cup event? "I have learned what my body processes best over the last couple years, and it’s kinda different from the ordinary. Before jumping and competitions I always have yogurt and granola and/or almond butter and bread/rice cakes. For me, it’s fast quick energy that my body can burn. I find if I each salty Foods or meat, I can’t digest it".
As you compete in a cold climate, are you having to eat more protein, for example, or more carbs? "My body processes carbs the best. I only have been finding this out in the past year. I eat almost no red meat and can only handle 10 grams of whey protein (shakes, bars, etc) at a time. I do eat fish and chicken at dinner almost every night. I feel like my whole life people talked about how bad carbs were for you and to stick with protein and veggies. I think that works for some people but for myself I can have carbs and run by body better".
What do you eat after competing? Can you treat yourself? "I love ice cream but usually maintain a healthy diet. If I crave something I usually have it, a small serving never hurts and you crave things for a reason".
What are your thoughts on protein bars & shakes? "I have bars a couple times a week and I love them. You have to find the right ones work for you and then if you’re in a pinch grab one. I think if you have access to real food that’s always better".
Do you eat much at the gym/after the gym? "I never eat during a workout (mine aren’t longer than 2 hours) but always try to get a recover snack after".
What does a ski jumping gym session look like? "World cups are December through March but we also have competitions in the summer. 11 months out of the year we can jump so it’s pretty intense. Summer we build strength, take lots of jumps and then as fall comes around we start to focus on speed and quickness. Men have about 30 world cups a year and women 15".
What is your cheat meal? "Pizza - quality ingredients".
What meal(s) do rely on the most at home? "Breakfast is really important but when I’m home dinner is the best. On the road you can always find good enough foods for breakfast but dinner not so much. I thrive off of huge salads and salmon. Ask Love black beans and veggies burgers".
Is there anything you actively avoid? "I found out I was egg intolerant almost three years ago. That’s been pretty hard and bums me out a lot. I do feel a lot better since I cut them from my diet. I eat minimal red meat but take an iron supplement".
How important is hydration at your level? "Hydration is important for how much I travel and train but it isn’t monitored that much. I drink probably 60-70 oz a day"
When you travel, do you get to try the local cuisine, or have you got to be quite strict? "When I travel I try to branch out but around comp days I find what works to perform at my best".
Has you diet changed much, or developed, over the past 5-6 years as an elite athlete? "As I age as an athlete I just learn more about myself and food. As a female AND an athlete it’s really hard to not have food control your life. I’m learning how much value and importance food plays in our daily lives verses when people see it as a burden. Food is beautiful and it fuels our body and brain".
Finally, do you have any pre-competition rituals? "I focus on breathing. Always one long exhale right before I let go of the start".