Three World Cups will be held in Zao that weekend. Race for overall World Cup can be decided there.
After a break of two weeks, in which the Continental Cups in Liberec and the Junior World Championships in Erzurum were held, the World Cup will continue this weekend in Zao, Japan. Not two, but three competitions will be held there, because one of the cancelled World Cups from Szczyrk was rescheduled here. Two competitions will be held on Saturday and one on Sunday.
There were some concerns during the last couple of months, if the competitions should be really held in Zao, because the hill is only 100 km away from the wrecked nuclear power plant in Fukushima. But after judging the situation carefully, the organizers came to the conclusion, that it is save enough to hold the competition there. Zao in the Yamagata Prefecture is one of the pioneer venues of Ladies Skijumping. Ladies Continental Cups were held here since 2006. The competition in the last year was held only a day before the earthquake and the tsunami.
The three competitions in Zao can already decide the race for the overall World Cup, because only one competition, the World Cup Final in Oslo, will follow. Leader Sarah Hendrickson from the United States is 211 points ahead of runner-up Daniela Iraschko from Austria. This sounds like a large gap, but the race is still suspense-packed, as the following sample calculations show: Three second ranks would be enough for Hendrickson to prematurely win the cup. If she finishes three times on the third rank here while Iraschko wins, a 21st place in Oslo would still be sufficient for her to take overall victory. But if Hendrickson would only finish as sixth in all 3 competitions in Japan, she would at least require a win in Oslo.
Japan’s local hero Sara Takanashi jumped very strong in the last competitions. Although she is out of the race for the overall World Cup, she is for sure good for a World Cup victory in her own country.