ROSA KHUTOR, RUSSIA
— French ski jumper Coline Mattel
has already enjoyed the winning feeling at Sochi and the 18-year-old hopes to build on her World Cup success on the Russian hill by claiming an Olympic medal.
Over the course of two days in December 2012, Mattel triumphed in one World Cup event on the normal hill and came fourth in another.
She told reporters on the eve of the Feb. 7 - 23 Sochi Games
that the experience of winning an event at the Black Sea resort was an advantage.
“Things went well and I think the fact I won gives me confidence, because if I'd come in 35th I'd have been a lot more unsettled arriving here today,” she told a news conference on Thursday.
“It's really a bit of an advantage. When I get on the hill I'll know I've already done well there. It gives me a little bit of confidence.”
Mattel is seventh in the World Cup standings after a series of good recent results and Jacques Gaillard, coach of the French women's team, is confident she will do well.
“We hope at the minimum for a medal and why not the best one? She has the potential for that,” he said.
Mattel, who started jumping at the age of seven, came fourth in the World Championships in 2013 and won bronze in 2011.
She also won the junior World Championship in 2011 and took second place in the 2014 competition held last month.
Mattel, who is 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall and weighs 126 pounds (57 kg), sounded confident she could catch 17-year-old Sara Takanashi of Japan, the current World Champion and the runaway World Cup leader.
“At the start of the season she was certainly very, very impressive. She is jumping really well but we're at the Games and I think it's different,” said Mattel.
“At events like this she is not unbeatable: I think there are five or six girls who can get close to her and scare her. Over two jumps at the Olympic Games I think the pressure is different for everyone, her included.”
Mattel, who joked the Olympic village is twice the size of the one she lives in the French Alps, dismissed a news report which quoted her as saying she would quit the sport after the Olympics to focus on a career as a theater director.
“I am studying theater and really want to make my career there later but I'm thinking a lot more now about ski jumping,” she said.