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Takeuchi settles for silver in women’s parallel giant slalom

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Tomoka Takeuchi captured the silver medal in the women’s parallel giant slalom snowboard event at the Sochi Games on Wednesday afternoon.

The silver is Japan’s seventh medal here and first by a female. She becomes the first Asian female to ever medal in the discipline.

Takeuchi lost to Switzerland’s Patrizia Kummer in the two-race finals at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

Takeuchi, a native of Sapporo, bested Kummer by 0.30 seconds in the first race and looked in good position to win the gold, but fell with just a few gates left near the bottom of the hill in the second race.

Russia’s Alena Zavarzina downed Austria’s Ina Meschik to take the bronze.

“I was not confident enough with my speed on the last run,” said Takeuchi. “Everything was so quick today.”

The 30-year-old Takeuchi beat Canada’s Caroline Calve by a 4.00 margin in the quarterfinals, and then defeated Meschik in the semifinals.

Takeuchi won the first race of the semis by 1.01, before Meschik was disqualified in the second.

Takeuchi, whose best previous finish in the Olympics was ninth at the 2006 Turin Games, cited the rising power of the sport on her home
continent.

“Asia is becoming really strong in snowboarding, not just Japan but all of Asia is becoming stronger and stronger every season,” she commented.

Takeuchi admitted that she has ended up doing something she never envisioned.

“I never expected to become a snowboarder,” she stated.

Takeuchi’s medal is the third for Japan in snowboarding, after Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka took the silver and bronze in the men’s halfpipe last week.