12th win gives Takanashi third world crown
Japan's teenage ski jumping star Sara Takanashi is guaranteed her third overall World Cup title after earning her 12th victory of the season on Friday.
The 19-year-old leapt 99.5m on her second jump on the Lahti hill to win with a total of 251.3 pts ahead of Slovenia's Maja Vtic (238.7pts) and Japan's Yuki Ito (232.2).
It means Takanashi now has an insurmountable lead of 431 points ahead of her nearest rival, Austria's Daniela Iraschko-Stolz, with only four events left of the season which would bring a maximum total of 400pts.
"I'm very happy. This season is nearly perfect," said Takanashi after her 12th win in 15 competitions.
Ten of her victories this season were consecutive, which has never been done before, and she jumped an unofficial world record of 137.5m on February 4 in Oslo.
Takanashi, whose worst result all season was fourth in Ljubno, Slovenia, earlier this month, can still beat her record of 15 wins in a single season, which she set in 2013-14 and has her rivals in awe.
"She jumps like a robot," according to last season's overall World Cup winner Iraschko-Stolz, who Takanashi has dethroned, while Germany's Olympic champion Carina Vogt offered: "Sara simply doesn't make mistakes".
She is just 1.52m tall (4 feet, 11 inches) and weighs only 45kgs (seven stones, one pound), but is a giant in the World Cup having always finished in the top three overall since her debut in the 2011/12 season.
She is peerless, having won 42 of her 75 World Cup competitions and finished on the podium an incredible 62 times.
But there is a significant gap in her career as she is yet to win a world championships or Olympic title.
She finished a disappointing fourth at both the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and 2015 world nordic championships in Sweden.
"She has showed some nerves at the major events, but in the World Cup she has won everything, it's not a challenge for her anymore," said Germany's coach Andreas Bauer.
1. Sara Takanashi (JPN) 251.3 pts (96.5 + 99.5 m)
2. Maja VTIC (SLO) 238.7 (94.0 + 96.0 m)
3. Yuki Ito (JPN) 232.2 (93.5 + 92.0 m)
4. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (AUT) 231.6 (93.0 + 91.5 m)
Overall World Cup standings (after 15 of 19 events)
1. Sara Takanashi (JPN) 1410 pts
2. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (AUT) 979
3. Maja VTIC (SLO) 798