PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - Sara Takanashi exorcised the ghost of Sochi with a bronze medal in the normal hill jump at Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre on Monday night.
The 21-year-old native of Kamikawa, Hokkaido, uncorked a big first leap of 103.5 meters for a score of 120.3 points and was third going into the final round.
Takanashi soared 103.5 again on her final jump to finish with a total of 243.8 and a spot on the podium.
Norway’s Maren Lundby captured the gold medal with a total 264.6, including an incredible leap of 110.0 as the final jumper of the event.
Germany’s Katharina Althaus claimed the silver with 106.0 and 252.6.
Takanashi, considered the most successful female jumper in history, was the favorite going into the Sochi Olympics four years ago, but tightened up under pressure and finished a disappointing fourth.
Takanashi led with two jumpers to go (Lundby, Althaus) this night, but was unable to hang on.
“I wanted to get the gold but I was not able to,” Takanashi stated. “Maybe it means that I have not grown enough to get the gold medal, but my objective is to surpass those two player in front of me.”
Takanashi was grateful for the backing she has received from fans over the years.
“I receive the support of many people throughout the world, so it’s great stimulus for me to go and try harder,” she said.
Yuki Ito was ninth with a total of 203.9, while Kaori Iwabuchi came in 12th on 188.3.
Yuka Seto finished 17th at 172.0.