SOCHI, RUSSIA – Snowboarder Tomoka Takeuchi, who took the silver medal in the women’s parallel giant slalom at the Sochi Winter Games on Wednesday, hopes to grab another medal in Saturday’s parallel slalom, despite a patchy history in the event.
The first Japanese female boarder to win an Olympic medal, and the first Japanese to medal in a parallel snowboard event, 30-year-old Takeuchi is competing in her fourth straight Olympics.
If she does take medals in multiple individual events, she will be only the third Japanese winter athlete to do so after ski jumper Kazuyoshi Funaki and speed skater Hiroyasu Shimizu at the 1998 Nagano Games.
In parallel snowboarding events, two athletes speed down a hill course side by side, each negotiating her own set of gates.
At 320 meters long, the slalom course is half the length of the giant slalom, with the gates placed closer together.
Takeuchi’s strength in the giant slalom lies in her ability to speed up after turning, but this is no advantage in the slalom, where there is less time to deeply shift one’s weight in turns.
She had three World Cup runner-up finishes in the giant slalom earlier this season, but dropped out in the heats in all three of her slalom events.
Even so, Takeuchi said after her silver medal performance she is in fine form, and wants to ride from the giant slalom podium straight on to that of the slalom.