• Kyodo

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Masako Ishida placed third in the women’s skiathlon at a cross country World Cup meet on Saturday, becoming the first Japanese to secure a podium finish in the race.

At a test event for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Ishida clocked 45 minutes, 9.5 seconds in the 15-km race split into the classic and free technique. Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland won in 43:54.7, followed by Elizabeth Stephen of the United States (44.50.7).

The 36-year-old Ishida was third in a 30-km classical race in 2009 to become the first Japanese cross country skier to reach the World Cup podium at the long distance.

“I should be competing for the top two spots, really, but I’m glad I won a place on the podium,” Ishida said. “I thought I was able to maintain the pace throughout.”

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