Krasnaya Polyana is Russia’s answer to Vail or Aspen. It’s the country’s preeminent ski town with three ski complexes, plenty of hotels, and a preponderance of snow. It also happens to be the site of many of the events of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, which means it is soon to make history books.
“I went to Sochi in December,” says Hendrickson. “That mountain range was so pretty.” Among Russian mountain men and fur-bedecked heiresses, visitors negotiate vast off-piste snowfields, groomed runs, and steep gorges flanked by waterfalls. If skiing at the resort appeals, the bounty of what lies beyond might appeal even more. Backcountry guides and helicopter services based in Sochi ferry the adventurous into the wilds of the Caucasus, a blank canvas of untracked snowfields.
Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson may be young—19—but she has no shortage of hardware. Already, the Park City-raised ripper has snagged 22 World Cup medals in ski jumping. Plus, she was the World Cup overall champion in 2012 and the World Championships gold medalist in 2013. Next, Hendrickson is vying for an even more historic distinction: the first Olympic gold medal ever awarded in women’s ski jumping, a new (and some might say long overdue) event at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.
Sarah Hendrickson's Gear Pick: Kellog's Special K Cereal Bars
What’s Hendrickson’s critical piece of gear? “My pillow. I’m gone from home anywhere from two weeks to two months, and you never know what kind of hotel you’re going to stay at.” You also don’t know what kind of food you’re going to get, says Hendrickson, which is why she keeps her sponsor’s Special K Cereal Bars in her bag for the post-workout munchies.