• Kyodo

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Japan’s newest Olympic medal hope Daito Takahashi slumped over the final 5 km of Sunday’s cross-country race and settled for fourth place in the final nordic combined World Cup meet before next month’s Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Takahashi, who started in third place 54 seconds behind Thorsten Schmitt of Germany after Saturday’s jumping competition, climbed into second place midway through the 15-km race but struggled at the end and finished 37.2 seconds behind winner Bill Demong of the United States.

Demong, starting in fourth place, edged local favorite Pavel Churavy by 1.9 seconds for his first-ever World Cup triumph, while Felix Gottwald of Austria was third another 1.9 seconds back.

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