KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Sarah Takanashi of Japan placed first in two of three training rounds Monday in women's ski jumping at the Sochi Olympics to regain some of the initiative she lost to rival Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria.
Iraschko-Stolz had placed first in four of six rounds over the previous two nights at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center, to take the momentum from 17-year-old Takanashi, winner of 10 World Cup events this season.
The gold medal final is Tuesday night, the much-anticipated event capping a decade-long fight for the women's competition to be included on the Olympic program.
Takanashi goes into it with confidence that she's peaking at the right time.
"Compared to my other jumps, today were the best," she said. "The transition is the most important thing and that determines the result."
It was another difficult night for defending World Cup champion Sarah Hendrickson of the United States, who suffered a serious right knee injury in August and is still experiencing pain from the surgery. After Sochi, she plans an extended break.
The Park City, Utah, native, winner of 13 World Cup events since 2011, passed on her first jump, finished 28th of 29th in the second round and 23rd of 25 in the third round.