ZAO, YAMAGATA PREF. – Japan completed a sweep of the season’s two women’s ski jumping World Cup team events by winning Saturday’s finale.
The quartet of Kaori Iwabuchi, Yuka Seto, Yuki Ito and four-time World Cup overall champ Sara Takanashi scored 761.7 points in a comprehensive victory on the Kuraray Zao Schanze. Slovenia finished runner-up with 706.8 points and Russia placed third with 696.1 in the eight team competition.
All four members of Japan’s team, who won the season’s other team jump last month in Germany, will compete at next month’s Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Iwabuchi’s first jump of 86 meters left Japan in second place, but the team’s depth proved to be the key. Seto followed with a jump that was comparable but put Japan in the lead for good.
“I wanted to get us off to a good start and I couldn’t and I’m frustrated by that failure,” Iwabuchi said.
Takanashi has struggled all season, and Saturday was no exception. Competing against other nations’ aces in the final group, Takanashi was runner-up with her first jump and finished fourth with her final leap.
Like Seto, Ito produced both of the best jumps in her group, and said she was conscious of her place on the team.
“I knew that my results could either make it easy for Sara or put extra pressure on her,” Ito said. “I feel I’m getting a little better with each jump this season.”