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
London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova is one of many Russians among 31 athletes overall who tested positive in recent retests of Beijing Olympic samples, according to Russian news agency TASS.
“Three days ago, Anna received a notice that her doping sample from the Beijing Olympic tested positive after a re-check, and she called me,” Chicherova’s coach said, according to the report Tuesday. “So far, this is at the development stage and this has not yet been finally confirmed. But all are aware of this and are dealing with the issue.”
Last week, the International Olympic Committee said 31 unnamed athletes from 12 nations across six sports failed drug tests in retesting of 454 samples from 2008 using the latest drug-testing methods.
On Tuesday, TASS reported that 14 Russian athletes, mostly in track and field, were suspected of doping during the Beijing Games after the retests, citing an unnamed Russian Olympic Committee source.
Chicherova, 33, took high jump gold at the London Games and bronze in Beijing. She is one of two track and field athletes to earn an individual-event medal at the last five World Championships and last two Olympics. The other is Usain Bolt.
Chicherova, who has had no previously widespread reported doping history, would be one of Russia’s top Olympic track and field medal hopes in Rio, should the ban on Russian track and field athletes competing be lifted before the Games.
Russia is expected to learn if it will be allowed to send a track and field team to Rio on June 17.
MORE: Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics
Japan dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, who abandoned his bid to become the oldest Olympian ever in Rio, could see his career come full circle in four years.
Hoketsu, whose Olympic debut came at the Tokyo 1964 Games, is not ruling out attempting to make the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at age 79.
“If I can do it and be in Tokyo, that would be marvelous,” Hoketsu said, according to Reuters. “I have to see if it will still be physically possible.”
The oldest Olympian is Swede Oscar Swahn, who earned 1920 Olympic shooting silver at age 72.
Hoketsu, 75 and the oldest Olympian at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, sought to make his fourth Olympic team this year. It was derailed due to his horse’s illness.
After debuting at Tokyo 1964, Hoketsu went 44 years between Games appearances. He finished 41st out of 50 competitors in individual dressage at London 2012, according to sports-reference.com.
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