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Teenage ski jumper Takanashi back in spotlight at world championships

Kyodo

Newly crowned overall ski jumping World Cup champion Sara Takanashi will aim for her first gold medal at the FIS World Nordic Ski Championships on Friday.

In an official practice on Thursday, the 16-year-old phenom had a leap of 101 meters to move into first place, but she could only manage 92.5 meters on her second attempt, leaving her in fifth.

“My form isn’t that good,” said Takanashi, who at 16 years, 4 months, became the youngest ever winner of an overall World Cup skiing crown. “There were only a few jumps (in practice) that I was satisfied with. I want to improve my accuracy.”

Takanashi’s coach, Takahiro Ogawa, said he believes the Hokkaido native will be ready once the tournament begins on the K-95 hill.

“She is a little bit off with her timing. But all she has to do is make adjustments once the tournament gets under way,” Ogawa said.

Sarah Hendrickson marked jumps of 99 and 102 meters in practice. It will likely come down to a fierce competition between Takanashi and her American rival. Takanashi, who has eight victories on the World Cup circuit this season, came sixth at the 2011 worlds.

Aside from Takanashi, Yuki Ito, Misaki Shigeno and Yurika Hirayama will compete for Japan in the 43-women field.