Japan finishes 4th in mixed team ski jumping

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sara Takanashi competes in the final of the mixed team ski jumping event at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Monday.

ZHANGJIAKOU, China — The Japanese quartet of Sara Takanashi, Yukiya Sato, Yuki Ito and Ryoyu Kobayashi finished fourth in the Olympic debut of mixed team ski jumping at the Beijing Games on Monday.

Takanashi was disqualified in the first round due to a suit violation. As a result, Japan had only its combined points from the three other jumpers, putting it in eighth place ahead of the second round.

All four Japanese jumpers, including Takanashi, took part in the eight-nation second round. Kobayashi made a giant leap at the end, helping his team secure fourth place with a total of 836.3 points.

Slovenia won the gold medal by a large margin, with the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) taking the silver medal and Canada the bronze.

4 meters short

Kobayashi’s jump seemed to embody his team’s determination, reaching the hill size point of 106 meters.

“I hate God just for today,” Sato said after Takanashi’s first-round jump was disqualified. Sato, Ito and Kobayashi concentrated on the competition, trying to show their own performances, and finished the first round without any major mistakes.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Kobayashi said to his teammates so they wouldn’t be discouraged.

Ace female jumper Katharina Althaus, a member of the German quartet that was considered one of the likely candidates for a medal, was also disqualified in the first round due to a suit violation, and eighth-place Japan scraped into the second round.

All the Japanese jumpers successfully finished the second round, and Japan ended up just four meters behind Canada in terms of distance. Canada had no disqualifications and finished third.

Takanashi and Kobayashi are 25 years old, Sato is 26 and Ito is 27. Close in age, they all get along well. They are also competitive jumpers who have all won World Cup events in the past. “I felt very secure because I was able to jump with my reliable teammates,” Ito said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ryoyu Kobayashi, left, supports Takanashi after the Japanese team failed to secure a medal.

Kobayashi said, “I hugged her [Takanashi] many times.” They demonstrated the unity of the team, which was not shaken by accidents.

Burst into tears after 2nd jump

How much does Takanashi have to endure?

Takanashi jumped the farthest out of the first 10 jumpers. However, she was disqualified just after she landed due to a suit violation, and her jump of 103 meters was erased from the official record. She collapsed crying and had to be supported by staff, appearing heartbroken.

Takanashi’s talent bloomed when she was a junior high school student and great expectations have been placed on her at every Olympics. However, she has never won a gold medal.

She finished fourth at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and while she took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, she finished fourth in the women’s normal hill individual event at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Saturday.

“I might not have a role to play,” she lamented. However, she composed herself and competed in Monday’s event. Once again, however, Takanashi couldn’t reach the Olympic podium.

According to Takanashi’s coach Tomoharu Yokokawa, the staff prepared the same suit that she wore Saturday, but the size at her thigh was two centimeters larger than regulations allowed.

“Since the competitions took place at a high altitude, the suits affected jump distance and all the teams tried to go as far as the rules permitted,” Yokokawa said.

Takanashi changed to another suit for the second round, according to Yokokawa.

As Takanashi sat on the starting bar in the second round, her eyes looked sharp and steady behind the goggles. She jumped 98.5 meters, bursting into tears the moment she landed. She covered her mouth with both hands and squatted down.

Takanashi bowed deeply before the cameras, repeatedly saying, “I’m sorry.” Kobayashi hugged her in support many times.

“Sara made a great jump. She’s really strong,” he said.