"Race officials put a tree branch down six meters before the spot where you're supposed to take off, but I know instinctively when to start my move by feeling the rhythm of the hill. I push off from my quads, and the speed carries me into flight position."
Hendrickson, 19, has already landed almost 10,000 jumps in her life. "People ask if I freak out about flying so high, but I've done it so much, I don't get nervous anymore," says the reigning world ski jumping champion, who started alpine skiing at age 2 and launched herself off a ramp five years later. The 5-foot-4 wunderkind can soar up to 437 feet and, provided she has fully recovered from right knee surgery, is a podium contender in the women's K90 (70-meter) event, which makes its Olympic debut in Sochi. Here's how she takes flight. -- Matt McCue