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Red-hot Okabe continues streak

SAPPORO (Kyodo) Takanobu Okabe produced the best jump in the four-man final at the HBC Cup ski jumping meet Monday to win his sixth title in seven events in Japan this winter.

The 38-year-old Okabe soared 135.5 meters on the K-120 Okurayama hill to earn 145.4 points in the one-jump final and has been named to replace struggling Taku Takeuchi in the Jan. 24-25 World Cup meet in Whistler, Canada, which serves as a test event for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Fellow veteran Noriaki Kasai took second with 140.4 points for a leap of 133 meters, followed by Shohei Tochimoto on 128.1 points and Daiki Ito on 121.2.

The top 16 jumpers in the preliminary round advanced to the knockout stage, with the field gradually narrowed to the last four.