Schoolgirl ski jumper Sara Takanashi, 17 years old and 5 feet tall, who comes from a family of ski jumpers in the snowy island of Hokkaido, starts her world cup defence this week and pursues a rare winter Olympic gold medal for Japan at the Sochi Games.
“I don’t think I can feel more pleasure than the moment when I manage to do my best jump while feeling pressure,” she told the public broadcaster, NHK.
“I want to do the best jump possible if I get to stand on such a stage,” she added, referring to the Olympics.
Takanashi won eight out of 16 World Cup events and became the series’ youngest winner at age 16.
American Sarah Hendrickson, her rival, is out at the start of her World Cup defence. Hendrickson is now recovering from a critical ligament injury she suffered in training on August 21.
“Around this time of the year, I used to have something wrong with my legs or elsewhere. But I have no such things this year,” Takanashi told Japanese media last week before leaving for a training camp in Austria.
“It’s not so much fun jumping without her,” she added, referring to Hendrickson. “I have learned a lot of things from her. To me, she is a sort of icon rather than a rival.”
The World Cup will run through March 22 with 20 events straddling the Sochi Games.
According to: sg.news.yahoo.com, channelnewsasia.com