LAHTI, FINLAND – Akito Watabe came up well short in his bid for a first individual medal at the Nordic World Ski Championships, placing fifth in a Nordic combined event on Friday.
Watabe was sixth after the normal hill ski jumping portion of the competition, leaving the 28-year-old with a 31-second deficit to make up to the leader, Germany’s Eric Frenzel, over the 10-km cross-country phase in Lahti.
But despite his best efforts, he only managed to move up one place in the rankings as Johannes Rydzek turned a 14-second deficit into a 14.9-second win to defend his title and lead Germany to a podium clean sweep.
Frenzel, who scored 128.1 points on the jump, was second and Bjoern Kircheisen third, 30 seconds behind Rydzek.
“Just as I expected it was difficult to close the gap on the skiers that have that bit more quality,” said Watabe. “If I can perform a little better I will be able to compete for first place.”
Among other Japanese athletes, Hideaki Nagai was 20th, Takehiro Watanabe was 34th and Watabe’s younger brother Yoshito was 44th.