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Kasai named to seventh Olympic team

Kyodo

The Ski Association of Japan announced Tuesday that 41-year-old ski jumper Noriaki Kasai will compete for Japan at next month’s Sochi Olympics when the body named seven athletes to the squad.

It will be Kasai’s seventh consecutive appearance at the Olympics.

Sara Takanashi, a 17-year-old who won last season’s women’s ski jumping World Cup and is leading this season with five wins and a third place in six individual events, was named to the women’s team.

“I’ll make an effort to be at my best,” Takanashi said. “I want to make the ultimate jump in order to repay those who have supported me.”

Kasai, who was fifth in Monday’s final event at the Four Hills Tournament, is currently seventh in the men’s World Cup standings. Daiki Ito joins Kasai to make his third consecutive Japan Olympic team, while Taku Takeuchi will be competing at his second straight Winter Games. Two men will be making their Olympic debut, 20-year-old Reruhi Shimizu and 30-year-old Yuta Watase.

“I’ve been in the kind of form where I can say, even at my age, that I am going to aim for a medal,” Kasai said. “I’ve never had another season as good as this.”

Nineteen-year-old Yuki Ito will join Takanashi as women compete in ski jumping at the Olympics for the first time. One or two additional women competitors will be named after this month’s World Cup events in Sapporo and Zao, Yamagata Prefecture.