• Kyodo

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Ryoyu Kobayashi became the first Japanese man to reach 20 individual ski jumping World Cup wins as he soared to victory in freezing conditions in Ruka, Finland on Saturday.

Kobayashi beat Slovenian Anze Lanisek after racking up a total of 324.5 points on a first jump of 138.5 meters that put him 1.4 points behind Lanisek and a second of 143 meters to claim his first win of the season.

The Japanese ski jumper leapfrogged countrymen and Nordic combined skiers Kenji Ogiwara and Akito Watabe to join an elite group to boast at least 20 individual World Cup victories. With his 53 wins, Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer leads the all-time ranking.

“I didn’t have the (Japan) record wins in mind but I’m frankly happy,” said the 25-year-old Kobayashi, the 2018-19 overall World Cup champion.

“My second jump was really good. I’ve been performing well so I hope to keep this up.”

Saturday’s event was the first of two ski jumping World Cup competitions in Ruka.

On Sunday, Kobayashi revealed on his Twitter account that he has tested positive for COVID-19. The athlete is said to be asymptomatic and he has been isolated.

On his Twitter account, Kobayashi posted he had been infected with the virus in June and he has been fully vaccinated.

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