• Kyodo

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Japanese Olympic team member Gen Tomii turned in only the third fastest time on the cross country leg of the Nordic Combined National Championship on Friday, but it was enough for his first all-Japan crown in five years.

Tomii crossed the finish line after the 15-km race at the Shirohatayama course in Sapporo in 40 minutes, 54.7 seconds to easily outdistance runner Eiji Masaki by nearly two minutes.

Tomii, who finished 33rd in the nordic combined individual event at last month’s Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, won his second national championship crown and first since 1997.

“I was out there by myself today, I wanted to check my form while I was skiing,” said Tomii, who heads back to the World Cup circuit on Monday.

“It felt good to win at home, now I want to take this feeling and do my best on the rest of the tour.”

Masaki of Kinki University stormed out of eighth place, after Thursday’s jumping section, with the day’s best time of 40:14.6 but finished 1:52.9 behind Tomii.

Takanori Hagiwara finished another 36.3 seconds back for third place. High school student Taihei Kato, who shared first with Tomii after the jumping competition, could only manage a 44:51.9 and fell back into fifth place — 3:57.2 behind the winner.

Other than Tomii, the other members of the Japanese nordic combined Olympic team, including former world champion Kenji Ogiwara, did not compete in this year’s national championships.

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