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Evergreen Noriaki Kasai claims Nordic nationals ski jump title

Kyodo

Forty-five-year-old veteran Noriaki Kasai claimed the men’s large hill title on the final day of the Nordic ski national championships on Sunday after landing a pair of strong leaps.

Kasai posted jumps of 130.5 and 134 meters for a total of 276.1 points, followed by Junshiro Kobayashi (261.0) and his brother Ryoyu (234.0).

The men’s competition held at Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium’s 134-meter hill doubled as the NHK Cup, and Kasai eased to victory for the first time in eight competitions.

“I’m really happy. I’m confident in myself again,” said Sochi Olympic double medalist Kasai, who aims to participate in a record eighth Olympics at Pyeongchang next year. “I’m improving as I expected. I’m excited now.”

Kasai, who took silver in the individual large hill and the bronze in the team event at Sochi, will compete in the World Cup season that begins on Nov. 18.

In the women’s NHK Cup competition, Yuki Ito jumped 123 and 133 meters for 256.8 points, scoring 34.2 more than defending champion Sara Takanashi.

“I jumped further than the K point (120 meters) in both jumps, and it felt so good,” said Ito, who finished runner-up in competitions held on Friday and Saturday. “I was able to improve as I competed.”

Ito and Takanashi are among Japanese skiers competing in the women’s World Cup opener on Dec. 1.