Japanese ski jumper Sara Takanashi finished fourth at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and owns six world championships medals. She is a four-time World Cup overall champion.
Ski jumping beginnings
Takanashi was born October 8, 1996 in Hokkaido, Japan – the northern Japanese island where Sapporo, the host of the 1972 Winter Olympic Games, is located. She took piano lessons and ballet classes before her father and older brother introduced her to the sport of ski jumping when she was in second grade. Even today, despite being on the Japanese national teams, she relies on her father’s coaching advice; she sends him videos of her jumps to analyze since he rarely travels with her to events.
Major competitions/ medals
Takanashi picked up two medals at the 2013 World Championships: team gold and individual silver. She was the 2013 World Cup overall champion, as well. She entered the Sochi Olympics as a gold medal favorite – especially once U.S. rival Sarah Hendrickson’s injury took her out of medal contention – but ultimately finished in what she called a “dreadfully disappointing” fourth place. She finished the Olympic season with her second overall World Cup title.
In 2015, she placed fourth at the world championships but came away with a bronze medal in the team event.
The following season, she won the World Cup overall title for the third time. At the 2017 World Championships, she picked up two bronze medals in the individual and team events. She won her fourth World Cup title, too.
At the 2012 Junior World Championships, Takanashi won both available gold medals. She won individual gold and in addition to gold in the team event. At the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics, Takanashi won gold again, plus finished fifth in the team event.
Takanashi has won four of the six World Cup women’s ski jumping titles ever awarded: 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017.
“It’s definitely a friendly rivalry. Again, we can’t really converse that much, but she’s always so nice and super humble and an amazing athlete. What she has accomplished is outstanding. I look up to her and we are always respectful toward each other. It’s a good competition and it’s fun.” – Team USA’s Sarah Hendrickson, about her rivalry with Takanashi
Takanashi competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the first time women’s ski jumping was included in the Olympic program. She finished just off the podium in fourth place.
Outside of training
Takanashi aided the city of Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo was awarded the Summer Games by the International Olympic Committee in September 2013.