Watabe sweeps three-day event for fourth win of season

Kyodo

Akito Watabe picked up his third straight Nordic combined World Cup win on Sunday and became only the second athlete to sweep the three-day Seefeld Triple event in Austria.

The 29-year-old Sochi silver medalist, who will represent Japan in his fourth straight Winter Olympics at the Pyeongchang Games next month, matched the feat achieved three times by Eric Frenzel of Germany in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

On the 109-meter normal hill, Watabe posted jumps of 104 and 103 meters and finished the 15-km race in 34 minutes, 58.6 seconds. Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber was 1:14.9 behind, and Germany’s Fabian Riessle was further back in third.

“Winning the Triple is a big step forward for me,” said Watabe, who started 48 seconds ahead of Riiber in the cross-country race.

“I got a bit edgy before the race. I’m relieved to have won. I controlled my pace throughout the run and ran well to the end without running out of gas. But I need to make adjustments (in cross-country skiing) for the Olympics.”

Watabe’s younger brother Yoshito, who will also represent Japan at the Winter Games, finished 19th, while compatriots Go Yamamoto and Taihei Kato were 21st and 27th, respectively.

Watabe claimed his fourth World Cup win of the season and extended his career total to 13. He tied his record for most wins in a single season, which he last accomplished in the 2011-2012 season.