Sara Takanashi

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

Yuzuru Hanyu wins record fourth straight Grand Prix Final; Nathan Chen on podium

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu became the first singles skater to win four straight Grand Prix Finals, while 17-year-old Nathan Chen is the second-youngest men’s medalist in the event’s 22-year history.

The Olympic champion Hanyu held on to win despite scoring 10 points fewer than Chen in the free skate in Marseille, France, on Saturday. Chen finished second, 11.05 points behind.

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in his free skate with no falls. Hanyu fell once and singled a Lutz.

Chen, in his first senior season, became the first U.S. men’s medalist at the Grand Prix Final since Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir earned gold and bronze in 2009.

Only Russian Yevgeny Plushenko won a men’s Grand Prix Final medal at a younger age, a bronze at 16 in the 1998-99 season.

U.S. champion Adam Rippon fell three times Saturday and finished last of six skaters.

Chen, the darling attraction of the 2010 U.S. Championships at age 10, is now the clear favorite going for the U.S. Championships in January.

NBCSN will air Grand Prix Final coverage Sunday from 8:30-11 p.m. ET.

MORE: Javier Fernandez builds toward last Olympic chance

Men’s Results
GOLD: Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 293.90
SILVER: Nathan Chen (USA) — 282.85
BRONZE: Shoma Uno (JPN) — 282.51
4. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 268.77
5. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 266.75
6. Adam Rippon (USA) — 233.10

Yevgenia Medvedeva repeats as Grand Prix Final winner, misses Yuna Kim record

Yevgenia Medvedeva
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Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva extended one of the most dominant runs in recent history, repeating as Grand Prix Final champion on Saturday.

Medvedeva recovered from stepping out of her opening jump — a shocking error for her — to total 227.66 points, the second-highest score under an 11-year-old judging system. The 17-year-old just missed Yuna Kim‘s record 228.56 from the 2010 Olympics.

Medvedeva, who last lost in November 2015, won by 9.33 points over Japan’s Satoko Miyahara in Marseille, France. Russian Anna Pogorilaya was third, followed by Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond.

Miyahara, Pogorilaya and Osmond all tallied personal-best free skates.

Medvedeva made that early mistake skating to music from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a 2011 film relating to the 9/11 attacks. It’s a controversial program choice that includes, at one point, the voice of George W. Bush declaring that two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center.

“I’m happy, but I’m so sad about my mistake on my first jump,” Medvedeva said.

Nobody has finished within five points of Medvedeva during this winning streak, which included the 2016 European and World Championships and this perfect Grand Prix season. She’s seeking the first perfect season, including Grand Prix Final and world titles, since countrywoman Irina Slutskaya in 2004-05.

No U.S. woman qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2008.

NBCSN will air Grand Prix Final coverage Sunday from 8:30-11 p.m. ET.

MORE: Javier Fernandez builds toward last Olympic chance

Women’s Results
GOLD: Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 227.66
SILVER: Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 218.33
BRONZE: Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 216.47
4. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 212.45
5. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 198.79
6. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 188.81