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.
"I'm planning on taking the rest of the season off until my knee has recovered," Hendrickson said.
"For me it's not 100 percent recovered and I need more strength. I've done three jumps in previous training sessions but I've not done three jumps in training two or three days in a row."
Jessica Jerome of Park City tied for seventh, ninth and 10th in her three rounds while former world champion Lindsey Van, also from Park City, was 15th and 18th before sitting out the third round.
The International Olympic Committee added women's ski jumping to the Sochi program in 2011 after an unsuccessful court case ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Games by a number of jumpers including Van and Jerome.
Women's ski jumping had its first world championship in 2009 — won by Van — and has had a World Cup circuit for three seasons.