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Akito Watabe extends Nordic combined World Cup winning streak to four

Kyodo

Akito Watabe won his fourth straight Nordic combined World Cup on Saturday, after sweeping the men’s event in Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture.

Watabe jumped 130.5 meters and finished the 10-km race in 24 minutes, 14.6 seconds. Norway’s Jan Schmid was 1:12.6 behind for second place, while Germany’s Manuel Faisst placed third.

Despite increasing his career World Cup win total to 14, Watabe said he has room for improvement ahead of the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

“My performance in the jumps and the cross-country portion still varies from day to day,” Watabe said. “I need to improve my condition.”

Watabe, who was raised in Hakuba, said he appreciated having his home crowd root for him, considering most events on the World Cup circuit take place outside of Japan.

“I enjoyed listening to people cheer for me in Japanese, which doesn’t happen so often (at World Cup events),” Watabe admitted.

Go Yamamoto and Watabe’s younger brother Yoshito finished seventh and eighth, respectively.

Last week, Watabe became only the second athlete ever to win the Triple crown at the three-day Seefeld event in Austria.

The 29-year-old Sochi silver medalist, who will represent Japan in his fourth straight Winter Olympics at the Pyeongchang Games, extended his season wins to five, the most he has won in a single season on the World Cup circuit.