RUKA, FINLAND – Japan’s men’s team won silver at the FIS Nordic combined World Cup season opener on Sunday, stepping onto the podium for the first time in five years.
The team of two-time Olympic silver medalist Akito Watabe, his younger brother Yoshito, Hideaki Nagai and Go Yamamoto collected 492.3 points in the jump competition for an early lead, with Akito and Yoshito posting big jumps of 139.0 and 140.0 meters.
Japan fell behind on the track, however, and finished almost 1 minute and 5 seconds behind team Germany, comprised of Eric Frenzel, Fabian Riessle, Johannes Rydzek and Vinzenz Geiger.
Norway and Austria were each penalized for suit infractions and finished third and fourth.
“We were pretty lucky to make the podium. I don’t know what would have happened if (the two teams) weren’t disqualified,” Akito said. “But anyhow, the truth is I’m happy to step (onto the podium).”
Nagai, the Watabe brothers and Taihei Kato won bronze at the Finnish ski resort town in 2013, the last time Japan finished on the podium.