Mon, Jan 13, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Japan’s Takanashi claims 15th World Cup ahead of Sochi

AFP, SAPPORO, Japan

Japanese teenage ski jumper Sara Takanashi soared to a record-stretching 15th FIS World Cup victory yesterday, stepping up her bid for gold at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

“I have nothing to worry about,” the 17-year-old high school student said about next month’s Sochi Games in Russia, where women’s ski-jumping makes its Olympic debut. “I want to continue making steady jumps.”

It was her second win in two days and sixth victory in seven World Cup events contested so far in the 2013-2014 season, as she aims to retain the overall title she first won last year.

On Saturday, Takanashi won her 14th World Cup event to break rival Sarah Hendrickson’s record of 13 wins.

Takanashi, who is 152cm tall, jumped 97m in the first round to register the day’s longest distance as snow continued to fall on Miyanomori Hill in Sapporo, northern Japan.

Her second jump went 91m and she collected a total of 237.1 points.

Coline Mattel of France finished second on 219.8 points with jumps of 90m and 91m, while Russia’s Irina Avvakumova was third at 215.3 after jumping 91m and 87.5m.

“I feel really happy,” Takanashi, who hails from the nearby town of Kamikawa, said about her back-to-back home wins. “The [track] condition was not good and I jumped with care.”

American Hendrickson, the 19-year-old reigning world champion and winner of the World Cup overall title in the inaugural 2011-2012 season, is recovering from a cruciate ligament injury after a fall in August last year.

She is hoping to come back to competition this month.

After seven events in the 19-round season, Takanashi leads the overall standings by a remarkable 660 points, with Russia’s Irina Avvakumova second on 435 and Germany’s Carina Vogt third with 406.

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