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Kobayashi wins Four Hills opener for fifth World Cup title of season

Kyodo

Ryoyu Kobayashi picked up his fifth World Cup title of the season with a win at the Four Hills Tournament opener on Sunday night.

Kobayashi posted jumps of 138.5 and 126.5 meters in heavy winds for a 282.3 total score, just 0.4 ahead of Germany’s Markus Eisenbichler. Austria’s Stefan Kraft rounded out the podium with 280.5 at the 67th edition of the four-leg event held annually in Germany and Austria.

“It was a slim victory so it was a lot of fun,” said Kobayashi, who has only missed the podium once in eight events this season.

“Getting a win during the Four Hills week is a bit different from other World Cups. I’m really happy,” he said.

The 22-year-old Kobayashi became the second Japanese to win the first leg of the weeklong tournament since Kazuyoshi Funaki, who did it during the 1997-1998 season on the way to an overall win. Noriaki Kasai is the last Japanese to win any leg, prevailing on the second stop during the 2000-2001 season.

Among other Japanese competitors, Yukiya Sato finished 15th and Naoki Nakamura finished 29th. Daiki Ito and Kobayashi’s older brother Junshiro each failed to qualify for the second round of jumps.

The Four Hills Tournament continues Monday with qualification for the second leg in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, followed by the competition on New Year’s Day.

The third and fourth legs will be held on Austrian hills in Innsbruck and Bischofshofen on Jan. 4 and 6, respectively.