AOMORI – Former Olympic champion Kazuyoshi Funaki strolled to victory in the Winter Asian Games’ inaugural ski jumping title Tuesday as Japan extended its grip at the top of the medal standings.
Kohei Kawaguchi completed a snowboarding double as the hosts moved on to 13 golds on Day 3 of full competition in Aomori Prefecture.
Kazakstan, second in the medal table with four golds, also kept up its campaign to register a clean sweep in cross country skiing with Oxana Jatskaja the latest to bring home a title.
Putting a disappointing season on the World Cup circuit behind him, Funaki lived up to his hot-favorite billing in the individual event by claiming gold with a total of 245.0 points after landing the longest jumps in both legs at the K-90 hill in Owani.
The 27-year-old, who won gold in the large hill and team events in the 1998 Nagano Olympics, took a strong lead with an impressive 95.0-meter first-round effort and sealed gold after an 89.5-meter leap in the second leg.
“I haven’t been competing much on the normal hill lately so I wasn’t sure how it would go. But I think I managed to do justice to myself,” Funaki said.
Akira Higashi moved up from third with a fine second-round jump of 87.5 meters for an overall total of 228.0 to make it a Japan 1-2 with South Korean Choi Heung Chul, second after the first round, having to settle for the bronze on 218.0.
Kawaguchi, winner of Monday’s giant slalom, took a commanding lead of 1.16 seconds after his first run before slamming the door shut with an overall time of 1:38.93 on the Sunshine Course in Ajigasawa.
“It’s the first time that I’ve won in such a big race and to do so two days in a row is just incredible,” Kawaguchi said.
South Korean Ji Myung Kon took silver in 1:40.34 and Japan’s Kentaro Tsuruoka picked up his second bronze in as many days in 1:40.81.
After claiming the first three cross country titles, Kazakstan earned a fourth when Jatskaja came home first in the women’s 10-km freestyle in Owani.
Jatskaja, who won silver in the 5-km classical Sunday, eased to victory with a time of 26 minutes, 55.3 seconds while compatriot and 5-km winner Svetlana Malahova-Shishkina bagged the silver in 27:13.8.
Three more golds are up for grabs later Tuesday at Aomori Prefectural Skating Rink in the ice dancing, pairs and women’s events.
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