In­juries slowed Tanaka’s progress

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - — Dan Barnes

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.


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