Akito Watabe put up a strong fight against Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber and finished third, earning his fourth straight podium finish, on Day 3 of the Nordic combined World Cup in Seefeld, Austria.

Riiber, who finished atop the rankings in both of the previous days’ competition, had to fight off Finland’s Ilkka Herola and Watabe before claiming his second successive Triple victory with a successful late attack on the last uphill into the stadium.

In a Nordic combined Triple, the results from each day are carried into the next day, building the drama for the overall winner. The best 30 athletes take part in two jumps followed by a 15-km cross country race on the third and final day.

“I had no leg strength toward the end,” the 32-year-old Watabe said.

“I’m glad I got on the podium today. I’ll do my best again next time,” he said.

Watabe started the Gundersen cross country skiing leg with a 38-second disadvantage after a jump of 105 meters but he and Herola eventually caught Riiber, and the fate of the race came down to a sprint to the finish line.

Riiber scrambled home to win in 37 minutes, 19.1 seconds, just 1.3 seconds ahead of Herola. Watabe, who won the Triple title in 2018, was 3.2 seconds behind.

In his next competition on Feb. 6, Watabe will aim for a record 20th career World Cup victory.

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