The tears that flowed down the cheeks of Sara Takanashi on Monday were of a different kind than those in Sochi four years ago.
At the last Winter Olympics, Takanashi missed out on a medal in the inaugural women's ski jumping competition, finishing fourth despite being widely expected to win.
The burden of being the gold-medal favorite of an Olympics-obsessed nation was too much for a 17-year-old to shoulder and Takanashi was left bawling in the arms of her fellow competitors after the event.
She spent the four years post-Sochi determined to step onto the podium in South Korea, a feat she managed in Monday's subzero temperatures, winning a bronze medal behind Maren Lundby of Norway and Germany's Katharina Althaus, who were head and shoulders above the rest.
Takanashi cried again after her jumps, but this time there was some fist-pumping and a lot of smiles to go along with the tears.
In Sochi, she was far from her best. On Monday, she knew she could not have jumped better.
"A lot happened over the last four years," Takanashi said. "There were good times, bad times. That I won bronze and not gold today shows I'm still not good enough to top the podium."
"There was a lot of trial and error for me during these four years, and I hope I can build on this going forward. I was a little anxious, a little nervous today. A few negative thoughts entered my mind. But I was able to believe in myself and in the end I overcame it."
Her coach, Toru Washizawa, was not the least bit surprised by Takanashi's performance, bettered only by Lundby and Althaus, who won gold and silver, respectively.
Lundby, especially, was in a league of her own, soaring to 110.0 meters on her second jump to put a 12-point gap on the field.
"(Takanashi) finally won a medal so I think she'll only get better from here," Washizawa said. "She's been in form all long, and made two good jumps yesterday in training. She looked very good on both jumps today. In fact, they were two of the best jumps she's had all season."
"It's an outdoor event so you can't do anything about the weather, which can affect your position, unfortunately. But you could tell from the expression on her face afterward that she left everything out there."
In terms of results, Takanashi, the most successful women's World Cup jumper of all-time, has not had the greatest of seasons. She remains winless in the World Cup this campaign, her most recent win dating back to this time last year in Pyeongchang.
But Washizawa said the emphasis this season has been to peak for the Olympics, even if that meant sacrificing the World Cup. And he added if the Pyeongchang wind and cold had been less severe, Takanashi could have challenged Lundby for gold.
"We wanted to make sure she peaked at the Olympics," Washizawa said. "The plan worked. It's a shame about the conditions. We were saying that if it were like yesterday, we had a very good shot at a gold medal."
Takanashi was already talking about winning the gold in Beijing in 2022. But at least the next four years will be spent free of the monkey on her back, the only weight she feels will be that of an Olympic medal around her neck.
"After the last jump, everyone on the team embraced me, congratulated me," she said. "I'm really glad to have been a part of the Japan team and at the next Olympics in Beijing, I can build on this experience."
"The best thing about it was that I had fun jumping. It's such a refreshing feeling."
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