Top things to know about Japanese ski jumper Takanashi Sara

The PyeongChang 2018 bronze medallist is on course to appear in her third Winter Olympic Games at Beijing 2022, where she hopes to win elusive gold.

By Shintaro Kano
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

If it seems like Sara Takanashi has been around for ever, well, she has.

The doe-eyed teenager from Hokkaido who in February 2011 became the youngest winner ever of an FIS event is now a mature 25-year-old eyeing Beijing 2022, which would be her third Winter Olympic Games.

Sochi 2014 ended in tears and PyeongChang 2018 with a bronze medal. Now Takanashi is aiming for the top of the podium coming this February.

Here's what you need to know about the face of Japanese women's ski jumping and one of the country's strongest bets for a gold medal this winter:

A book of records

Takanashi is going where no ski jumper has ever gone before - male or female.

She is the all-time World Cup leader with 60 victories and 109 podium finishes as well as a four-time overall champion, sharing the feat with Janne Ahonen and Adam Malysz in the men's.

She rattled off a record 10 straight wins during the 2015-16 season, and produced 15 victories in a single season (2013-14), another record.

At 15 years and 4 months, Takanashi became the youngest winner ever on the World Cup circuit and is the only competitor to record a win in each of the 10 seasons since the women's event was launched.

She literally owns every record there is to own.

Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Growing up in her parents' convenience store

It all starts at home, so the saying goes. Takanashi's parents took that to heart apparently.

In trying to raise an aspiring Olympian, what better way to spend more time with your child by turning your home into a workplace (in pre-Covid times anyway)?

Takanashi grew up in a convenience store owned by her folks in the town of Kamikawa, Hokkaido.

Japanese convenience stores had been praised by the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain for their renowned egg salad sandwiches!

Check out the video below.

Hard working ballet student

If you wondered where Takanashi got the balance and flexibility to soar down hills unperturbed, it wasn't only on the slopes - but also in the ballet classroom.

Takanashi's former ballet teacher in junior high and elementary school Itaya Toshie thinks Takanashi developed her outstanding core strength in the studio.

Little Sara was one of the hardest-working kids and would never quit until she nailed a technique or routine, according to Ms. Itaya.

Practice indeed makes perfect.

No need of interpreter

Takanashi has the brains to match the brawns.

Despite having no known foreign roots, Takanashi took the very un-Japanese step of enrolling herself at the Grace Mountain International School so she could communicate without an interpreter when she is overseas.

"I just thought it would make me feel a lot more comfortable if I could speak English when I'm touring abroad. That's how I decided", Takanashi said in April 2012.

"I want to be fluent by the time I graduate".

To have more time to focus on ski jumping and learning English, Takanashi finished an intense four-month high school curriculum to earn her Japanese GED certificate. Nothing short of impressive.

Picture by 2013 Getty Images


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