SCHONACH, GERMANY – Akito Watabe overcame a 9-second deficit to win the season’s final Nordic combined World Cup race on Sunday.
It was the eighth win of the season for Watabe, who had already clinched the World Cup championship, and the 17th time he has stood atop a World Cup podium.
“This is the greatest,” said Watabe of receiving his World Cup trophy. “With this, I believe I have become No. 1 in the world.
“It is the title I most wanted to win. I want to exude the air of a champion.”
Watabe, who became known as the “silver collector” last season for his frequent runner-up finishes, is now just two wins shy of Kenji Ogiwara’s career total. Ogiwara, the only other Japanese to win the overall season title, did it three straight times, starting from the 1992-1993 season.
After scoring a second-best 250.3 points in the two-jump, normal-hill portion, Watabe started 9 seconds behind 20-year-old Norwegian Jarl Magnus Riiber. Watabe, however, beat Riiber to the finish line by 5.1 seconds in the 15-km, cross-country race.
Germany’s Fabian Riessle was third, 48.1 seconds off Watabe’s pace, while Watabe’s younger brother Yoshito was 12th and Go Yamamoto was 24th.