Injuries slowed Tanaka’s progress
ing made its Games debut. Tanaka was 12th, Henrich 13th in a field of 30. The top Canadian male jumper in Sochi was Mackenzie BoydClowes, who should also be on the team in PyeongChang.
Henrich reached a peak of fifth at the 2015 world championships, but she and Tanaka had off years in 2016 and both are considering retirement to pursue education after this season.
“I honestly think Taylor is one of the best ski jumpers in the world for women,” Linsig said. “When she’s jumping well, Taylor has the ability to be on the podium, no problem. Is she there now? No.
“For Atsuko, she’s right on the bubble, so she needs to pull her socks up and perform a little bit better in these major events so she can also make sure her spot is solidified.”
A gaggle of Calgary youngsters is coming up behind the veterans — Natasha Bodnarchuk, 19; Natalie Eilers, 18; Nicole Maurer, 17; and 16-year-old Abigail Strate — but there is room for only four Canadian women and four men in PyeongChang.
“For the rookies, here’s your test,” Linsig said of the summer competitions. “You want to go to the Olympics? Let’s see what you can do.”
For too long, it seemed life and sport was conspiring against Atsuko Tanaka’s physical and mental health.
The Calgary-born ski jumper was rehabbing her way back from two knee surgeries, the most recent in July 2014, and it seemed the 2015 world championships were a possibility. But a car accident in November 2014 threw her for a loop. She and a friend were waiting at a red light and were rear-ended.
“I suffered a pretty bad concussion and bad back pain. The concussion kept me out a few months. I couldn’t train at all. That car accident kind of pushed me back a lot. I wasn’t able to compete that winter at all.”
She also had to redo all the rehab work she had already done.
“A couple months after the accident, when I was able to train again, I wanted to be training and to get better, but in my mind it was more, ‘Why does this keep happening to me?’ I think that pushed me into depression a little bit.”
She believes lingering depression contributed to her poor competition results last season, but she has sought professional help and is feeling better physically and mentally.
The 25-year-old nevertheless plans to retire in 2018, hopefully after a second trip to the Olympics, to resume studies in kinesiology.
“I think it’s time to wrap it up but I owe it to my parents to try for one more Olympics. I just want to be able to put a smile on my mom’s face one more time.” Canadian Atsuko Tanaka competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics, but then faced setbacks due to a knee injury and a concussion suffered in a car crash.