Canada’s Atsuko Tanaka had a lot of misfortune in the last season. A knee injury just weeks before the World Championships in Liberec prevented her from participating. Ladies-Skijumping.com editor Stefan Diaz talked to her.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: In the last season there were the first World Championships in ladies ski jumping ever. Unfortunately you had an injury right in front of the championships. Can you tell us what exactly happened and how it felt not to participate?
Atsuko Tanaka: During the trial round of the Junior World Championships I caught an edge after I landed, and I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). At first the doctor said I should go home and get surgery, and when I heard that I was really upset and disappointed that I couldn’t compete.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Were you at least able to watch the competition on TV at home?
Atsuko Tanaka: No, I stayed to watch the competition, because when I went to the doctor in Zakopane he said that it was my MCL (medial collateral ligament) and not ACL. And my coach and I thought it would be better to stay, just in case I could jump.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Were you able to restart training yet, or do you still have to spare your knee?
Atsuko Tanaka: I have started basic training, like running and weights but I am still not able to do much with it yet.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: So we don’t see you on the summer competitions, do we?
Atsuko Tanaka: No, I will probably start jumping again in October.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: OK, then you can attack with full force in the winter. A winter that might be special: We all are still waiting for a decision by the court, if there will be a ladies competition at the Vancouver Olympics. How do you judge the situation?
Atsuko Tanaka: I honestly don’t know. As an athlete I do want to compete in the Olympics, but it is taking so long for the decision to be made.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: You recently graduated at high school. What are your plans for the future?
Atsuko Tanaka: It is hard to decide right now because of the Olympic stuff going on, but I do want to keep jumping. And I am also hoping to go to university as well.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: So right now there are no particular support programmes for ski jumpers in Canada?
Atsuko Tanaka: Nope. Ski jumping is not as popular in Canada as it is in Europe, and it is very hard to find people to support us.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: I wish you good luck for finding a way to combine going to university and ski jumping… Next question: A lot of people are often a little bit confused because of you. You are Canadian but with Japanese roots. Can you tell us about your family background?
Atsuko Tanaka: Both my parents are born in Japan. My dad used to ski jump when he was younger and my mom was a cross country skier.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: So your dad encouraged you to do ski jumping?
Atsuko Tanaka: Yupp!
Ladies-Skijumping.com: How old were you, when you started?
Atsuko Tanaka: I was 10 years old.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Finally it’s the last question: Do you have a favourite jumping hill?
Atsuko Tanaka: I think my favorite is the K95 in Vancouver and the K90 in Park City
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Not the one in Calgary??
Atsuko Tanaka: Haha it is okay but not the best.
Ladies-Skijumping.com: Thank you very much for the interview. I wish you all the best for curing your ACL and good luck.
Atsuko Tanaka: Thanks!