Japan takes fourth in season’s last Noric combined World Cup meet


Akito Watabe and his Japanese teammates missed out on a place on the podium as they finished fourth in the final Nordic combined World Cup team event of the season on Friday.

Watabe, who missed the last two individual events due to poor health, nailed a 106.5-meter leap to help Japan take third place after the ski jumping competition, leaving the team 25 seconds behind leader Germany and one second behind Norway going into the 20-km cross country race.

But Watabe, his younger brother Yoshito, Takehiro Watanabe and anchor Hideaki Nagai were never in title contention in the race and faded to finish fourth behind winner Norway, Germany and Austria.

Akito Watabe, skiing second in the cross country, said he thought Japan might have a chance to medal if the team could keep up with Austria after falling back to fourth in the first lap of the race, but was not too disappointed about his own performance.

“I felt like I was getting cramp but it was not a bad run seeing as I am coming back from illness,” he said.

Nagai said, “The top three countries have been strong all season and have strength in depth. I guess you could say it is a fair result. We have to beat them to try and get on the medals podium.”