It’s 10 for Takanashi after another win at Hinzenbach

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Japan’s Sara Takanashi is full steam ahead to Sochi after picking up her 10th FIS World Cup ski jumping win of the season and her second of the weekend today in Hinzenbach, Austria.

Takanashi’s jumps of 88.5 and 92.5 meters for a score of 245.2 points enabled her to beat out Austria’s Daniela Iraschko-Stolz for the second straight day. The local competitor had two jumps of 89 meters each and scored 238.4 points.

Also for the second straight day, the third-place finisher earned her inaugural World Cup podium with Finland’s Julia Kykkaenen putting up a total of 234.8 after jumps of 86.5 and 88.5 meters.

Takanashi now shifts focus to Sochi, where she’ll look to defeat Team USA’s Sarah Hendrickson and the rest of the field to claim the first-ever Olympic gold in women’s ski jumping.

Japan claimed five medals in Vancouver four years ago but went without gold, and figure skater Shizuka Arakawa has remained the most recent Japanese Winter Olympic champion following her win at Torino in 2006 (the lone Japanese medal overall in those Olympics).

It’s a lot of pressure to deal with, but Takanashi seems to thrive on that.

“I don’t think I can feel more pleasure than the moment when I manage to do my best jump while feeling pressure,” she said in a feature for the official Olympics website.

But win or lose, Takanashi will be in position to claim the World Cup overall championship when the series returns to action post-Sochi on March 1 and 2 in Rasnov, Romania.

Olympic gold medal contender Takanashi wins at Hinzenbach

U.S. senators speak up as women’s hockey worlds near with no resolution

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixteen U.S. senators wrote a letter to USA Hockey’s executive director Monday over their concerns about the treatment of the women’s national team.

Players have threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships over a wage dispute. The senators, all Democrats, urged David Ogrean to resolve the matter and ensure the team receives “equitable resources.” They cited the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.

USA Hockey’s board of directors meets Monday, and players said Sunday night they hope there’s a deal.

The senators, all Democrats, joined a chorus of support that includes unions representing players from the NHL, NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball. Those organizations said over the weekend they stood with the women’s team and criticized USA Hockey for attempting to find replacement players.

Prominent NHL agent Allan Walsh tweeted Sunday, “Word circulating among NHL players that American players will refuse to play in men’s World Championships in solidarity with the women.”

Zach Bogosian, an American-born Buffalo Sabres defenseman, went to high school with U.S. captain Meghan Duggan. He tweeted his support and said he hopes the dispute is resolved.

The U.S. is the defending champion at the International Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, which begins Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

In negotiations over the past 15 months, players have asked for a four-year contract that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. The senators’ letter notes the $6,000 that players earn around the Olympics and USA Hockey’s $3.5 million annual spending on the men’s national team development program and other discrepancies.

“These elite athletes indeed deserve fairness and respect, and we hope you will be a leader on this issue as women continue to push for equality in athletics,” the senators wrote.

In a statement Sunday night, players said they hoped USA Hockey would approve terms discussed during a meeting last week. They said the agreement has the “potential to be a game changer for everyone.”

The letter was signed by: Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Patty Murray of Washington, Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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Ugandan Olympian’s body shuts down at World Cross-Country Champs (video)

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Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei went from leading the race to finishing 30th in the final kilometer at the World Cross-Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda, on Sunday.

Cheptegei, a 20-year-old Olympian, saw his body shut down in the last four minutes of his race.

His stride shortened. His pace slowed. Cheptegei appeared on the verge of falling. At one point, a teammate deliberately pushed him from behind to keep going.

Cheptegei led by 12 seconds going into the final two-kilometer lap. He would finish 1 minute, 44 seconds behind Kenyan winner Geoffrey Kamworor, with 28 other runners separating them after the 10km race that took about a half-hour.

Cheptegei’s body movement looked similar to that of British triathlete Jonny Brownlee, who had to be helped to the finish line by brother Alistair Brownlee at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico, in September.

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