Sara Takanashi bouncing back after difficult time at Beijing Games

Masahiko Harada, Olympic ski jumping gold medalist and Japan’s Beijing Olympic team general director, said that Sara Takanashi is bouncing back mentally after her controversial disqualification in the ski jumping mixed team event.

“She was energized after receiving encouragement from everyone on the team and everyone back home,” said Harada, who won team gold when Japan hosted the 1998 Olympics.

Harada said the Ski Association of Japan, where he serves as director, is “doing its best to provide her with mental care.”

Takanashi, fourth in the women’s individual event, landed a huge, 103-meter jump as the first of Japan’s four skiers in Monday’s mixed team competition, only for an official to disqualify her for an equipment violation. The material of her skiwear was judged to be two centimeters wider than permitted around both thighs.

She subsequently offered apologies to the team and fans in an Instagram post, saying her disqualification cost the team a chance to win an Olympic medal.

“I can really understand how she feels,” said Harada, whose mistake at the 1994 Lillehammer Games cost Japan a team gold before he was also disqualified at the normal hill event at the 2006 Turin Games.

Four other ski jumpers, two from Norway and one each from Germany and Austria, had their jumps chalked off for the same violation in the Olympic debut of the mixed team event, causing a widespread stir.

Takanashi told a SAJ hearing that the suit check procedure was different than usual, prompting the association to consider making an official statement to the International Ski Federation. Harada said he hoped the operational procedures are resolved in a satisfactory manner as soon as possible.

Takanashi is already in Europe as she gears up for a World Cup competition later in the month.

“I’m sure she is looking to pay people back by showing everyone what good form she is in at the World Cup,” Harada said.

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