Germany unstoppable again: Kircheisen wins in Sapporo
There is no end to the German domination of the Nordic Combined World Cup. This time, it was veteran Björn Kircheisen who stepped up and narrowly beat Japan’s Akito Watabe on home ground (+0.7). Norwegian Mikko Kokslien was overjoyed to return to the podium, finishing 32.1 seconds behind the winner.
Team Japan ruled supreme in the jumping part of the event with youngster Nagamine taking his next jumping victory. Starting with number two, the 19 year-old was not to be beaten by anybody else in the jumping round after setting 136 metres (135.9 p.). Coming closest to this performance was team leader Akito Watabe. Being the last starter of the round, he landed at 134 metres and 129.1 points meant a time behind of 27 seconds which made Watabe into the top favourite for the victory of the day.
Fellow Japanese Taihei Kato rounded off the great jumping performance of his team on rank three (135 m; 125.5 p.) and followed his teammates out on the track 42 seconds after Nagamine. Björn Kircheisen continued his series of good jumping performances this winter with 132.5 metres and 125.3 points. This gave him the task of catching up 42 seconds as well and set the stage for an exciting fight between Watabe and the German for the podium. Denifl followed on rank five with 48 seconds of delay. Other skiers to watch were Klemetsen on rank seven with one minute and six seconds to overcome, Tim Hug on rank eight (+1:07) and fast skier Mikko Kokslien with one minute and 40 seconds of delay.
Watabe and Kircheisen found each other early at the head of the field, when Kircheisen closed the 20 second gap he had on the Japanese during the first lap. After this, Kircheisen needed to rest and so Akito Watabe also had to do his share of leading work. Ultimately, the two stayed together for the whole duration of the race and the decision was made in turn on the final stretch when the German got the favourable position on the inside of the curve. Kircheisen gained some metres on Watabe, who was not able to counterattack on the final stretch. So the veteran set the 17th victory of his career, the first since his success in Almaty in 2013, while Watabe had to be satisfied with yet another second place.
Behind the two, a larger group of pursuing athletes were skiing together until fast Norwegian Mikko Kokslien caught up with Hug, Watanabe, Denifl and the others. Bringing young German Jakob Lange with him, Kokslien gave it his all as he went to claim the final spot on the podium. Also for Kokslien it has been a long time: his last individual podium was in Ramsau am Dachstein in 2014.
Lange achieved a career-best fourth place in the end, Swiss Tim Hug collected another good fifth position. Hideaki Nagai, Takehiro Watanabe and Yoshito Watabe completed a very strong Japanese result with four athletes in the Top Ten. Jumping winner Hisaki Nagamine ultimately ended up on the 21st position.
Ski Jumping Results