world champion Takanashi soars like a bird
Sara Takanashi jumped 89.5 meters
at her first jump, and won the overall ski jump
World Cup championship on Feb. 17 in Ljubno, Slovenia.
With ski jumping running in her family, it was only
natural for young Sara Takanashi to brave the daunting
starting ramp high up the mountain and see how far
she could soar before landing.
Takanashi's father, Hironari Takanashi, was formerly
an active sky jumper. Her brother, four years older
than Sara, is also a ski jumper, and her friends
were trying the sport.
So, she made her first jump when she was an elementary
“I was frightened at first, but once I jumped, I
found it was fun,” she said. “It is just like being
Today, Sara Takanashi does resemble a bird when
she takes off, soaring far down the hill on her
jumps before landing, easily exceeding her fellow
At 16, she clinched the overall championship title
of the women's ski jump World Cup on Feb. 17 in
Ljubno, Slovenia, the youngest overall ski World
Cup champion ever. She is also the first Japanese
overall Nordic ski jump World Cup champion.The triumph
in the normal hill event marked her eighth victory
of the season.
“I feel happier than ever, and (the overall victory)
gives me confidence as well,” said Takanashi, flashing
an innocent smile.
The world's new ski jumping queen analyzed her character
as one in which she can “easily bring out her fighting
She graduated from junior high school last year,
and entered Grace Mountain International School
in Asahikawa, Hokkaido.
Takanashi thought of attending a Japanese high school
that has a powerful ski jump team, but she finally
chose to enroll in the international school.
“I want to test myself about how far I can develop
my skill in a more relaxed atmosphere,” Takanashi
Takanashi focused on her studies during her first
four months at high school when the new semester
began in April so she could focus on ski jumping
later. She passed her high school equivalency test
Before she passed the examination, Takanashi had
to take the first train that leaves the station
at 5:30 a.m. and study for two hours every morning.
She studied seven hours a day in all, Takanashi
But at home, she is just like any other normal teenager.
“During the off season, I do whatever I want whenever
I feel like it,” said Takanashi. “I want to sleep
till noon, but I am usually told that I should not
sleep too long and woken up.”
However, once “switched on” by something, Takanashi
is totally absorbed by it, such as ski jumping.
The diminutive teenager is only 152 cm tall, but
her excellent sense of balance, which she developed
through ballet lessons at an early age, enables
her to achieve her overwhelming distances on her
Takanashi will participate in the FIS Nordic World
Ski Championships in Italy on Feb. 22, and two more
World Cup events are still left in the season.
For the time being, Takanashi cannot relax and rest
on her already record-breaking achievements.