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Ryoyu Kobayashi soars to victory

Kyodo

A day after missing the podium for the first time this season, Ryoyu Kobayashi cemented his position as the world’s best ski jumper with a convincing World Cup victory in Switzerland on Sunday.

The win keeps Kobayashi atop this season’s World Cup standings ahead of Poles Piotr Zyla and Kamil Stoch, who finished second and third, on the second day of the World Cup event in Engelberg.

Kobayashi opened with a hill record-tying first jump, sailing 144.0 meters on the large hill in Titlis. The 22-year-old Japanese capped off the performance with a second jump of 137.0 to net 294.4 points and his fourth victory of the season.

“I couldn’t sleep at all thinking about the approach run (after finishing in seventh place on Saturday),” Kobayashi said.

“The muscle pain in my thighs was better today, and I came out of the starting gate well, too. I’m happy the Japanese national anthem could be heard in the beautiful Swiss mountains.”

After finishing on the podium in six of the seven events of the season so far, Kobayashi ensured he will be the favorite going into the Four Hills tournament beginning Dec. 30 in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Among other Japanese competitors, Naoki Nakamura finished 14th while Kobayashi’s older brother Junshiro was 20th. Veteran jumper Noriaki Kasai posted his first World Cup score of the season for placing 30th.

At the women’s World Cup in Premanon, France, Sara Takanashi stood on the podium for the second straight day after finishing third behind Germany’s Katharina Althaus and Norway’s Maren Lundby.

Takanashi, who holds the all-time record of 55 World Cup wins, was fifth after her first jump of 83.0 but leapt up to third with a second jump of 80.0.

“I feel like my body isn’t matching what I’m thinking,” Takanashi said. “You can’t compete with the world’s best in this kind of shape. I need to brush up on my technique and raise the bar higher.”

The Pyeonchang Olympic Games bronze medalist finished second in the normal hill on Saturday, adding to her third-place result in the season-opener in Lillehammer, Norway, earlier in the month.