Vancouver, British Columbia – Japan’s Norihito Kobayashi flirted with victory in the cross country race before eventually settling for seventh place in the Nordic combined individual normal hill-10-kilometer event at the Vancouver Olympics on Sunday.
Kobayashi, who started the race with a 58-second deficit after placing 12th in the ski jumping portion earlier in the day, briefly took the lead on the final lap at Whistler Olympic Park but dropped back before crossing the finish line 21.9 seconds behind winner Jason Lamy Chappuis of France.
Kobayashi’s performance was the best by a Japanese skier in an individual Nordic combined event since Daito Takahashi came sixth in the sprint event at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
“I didn’t need to make my move so early but my heart was shouting at me to go,” said Kobayashi. “I couldn’t win a medal but the thrill of being in the lead for just a little while was nice.”
Chappuis, the current individual World Cup rankings leader, overtook American Johnny Spillane on the final straight to clinch the gold.
Spillane finished 0.4 second behind and Italian Alessandro Pittin was a further 0.4 second back in third.
Elsewhere for Japan, Akito Watabe placed 21st, Taihei Kato was 24th and Daito Takahashi was 27th.
“I thought I would be able to get into a good position but I fell going downhill on the third lap and couldn’t move well from that point onward,” said Watabe.
Kobayashi anchored Japan to a shock victory in the team event at last year’s world championships and he and his teammates will be hoping to prove their gold medal triumph was no fluke in the 4×5-km relay on Feb. 23.