SOCHI, RUSSIA – Ski jumper Sara Takanashi was upbeat following her first official training session at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Centre on Saturday.
Takanashi, who leads the World Cup standings this season, is considered the favorite to win the gold medal in the normal hill competition on Tuesday.
The 17-year-old was worried about the conditions she would find before she arrived.
“I heard that there was not much snow, but in the end it was OK, so I was relieved,” Takanashi said.
The Hokkaido native recognized the significance of the inaugural Olympic ski jumping event for women.
“I’m really happy that women are able to participate in this competition,” she stated.
Takanashi is enjoying the interaction with the other athletes in Sochi for the Winter Games.
“It’s the first time I’m in the Olympics. I live in the Olympic Village and it’s really fun,” she stated. “We eat all together and the food is really good.”
Takanashi is trying to not let the pressure of being expected to take the gold affect her.
“I will try to do my best and not think about the result yet,” she said.
She also downplayed her rivalry with American Sarah Hendrickson, who has just returned after suffering a major knee injury last year.
“It’s not really a competition,” she commented. “I’m really glad that Sarah is here. It’s a source of motivation.”