Record-holding jumper Sara Takanashi will headline Japan’s hunt for skiing gold at next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after the Ski Association of Japan named her and 10 others to its team on Thursday.
The 21-year-old, whose 53 World Cup ski jumping wins are the most by any woman, aims to overcome the disappointment of the 2014 Sochi Games, when she fell short of expectations and failed to win an Olympic medal.
“In the four years since the Sochi Olympics ended, I’ve been practicing jumping with a feeling of regret,” said Takanashi, who finished fourth in Sochi after being the favorite to win the sport’s first women’s Olympic gold.
“My goal is to win the gold medal. I’ve been practicing with this aim.”
Yuki Ito, Yuka Seto and Kaori Iwabuchi join Takanashi on the women’s jumping squad. Takanashi and Ito had already booked their tickets to South Korea by meeting the ski association’s selection standards in December.
The men’s jumpers will be led by 45-year-old Noriyuki Kasai, who is now poised to set a record by appearing in eight consecutive Winter Olympics.
“I never thought I’d be chosen eight times,” Kasai said. “I’d like to aim for 10 Olympic Games eventually. First of all, I want to win medals in Pyeongchang, I want to make it an Olympics where I have no regrets.”
Daiki Ito, who will be competing in his fourth Olympics, and Taku Takeuchi, who is back for a third time, will join Kasai and sibling debutants Junshiro and Ryoyu Kobayashi.
Slalom racer Naoki Yuasa will make his third Olympic appearance after qualifying at the national championships last month.
Masako Ishida, whose third-place in women’s skiathlon at a World Cup meet last April was the first podium finish in the event by a Japanese competitor, was the country’s sole cross country skier named to compete in Pyeongchang. She will be appear in her fourth straight Winter Games.