Watabe wins 4th straight Nordic combined World Cup event

Akito Watabe, center, of Japan celebrates during the awarding ceremony as he won the Nordic combined World Cup event in Hakuba, central Japan, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. Second placed Norway's Jan Schmid is at left. Third placed Germany's Manuel Faisst is at right. (Kyodo News via AP)
Akito Watabe, right, of Japan celebrates during the awarding ceremony as he won the Nordic combined World Cup event in Hakuba, central Japan, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. Second placed Norway's Jan Schmid is at left. (Kyodo News via AP)
Akito Watabe of Japan competes on his way to winning the Nordic combined World Cup event in Hakuba, central Japan, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. (Kyodo News via AP)

HAKUBA, Japan — Akito Watabe of Japan won his fourth straight Nordic combined World Cup event on Saturday to enhance his position as a gold medal contender at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Watabe jumped 130.5 meters and finished the 10-kilometer race in 24 minutes, 14.6 seconds, 1:12.6 ahead of Norway's Jan Schmid. Germany's Manuel Faisst was third.

The 29-year-old Sochi silver medalist, who will represent Japan in his fourth straight Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, extended his season wins to five — the most he has won in a single season on the World Cup circuit.

Watabe became only the second athlete to sweep the three-day Seefeld Triple event in Austria last month. He has surged to the top of the World Cup standings with the results from Japan and Austria, adding to a win earlier this season in Finland.

Schmid caught Faisst on the last steep uphill and crossed the finish line 10 seconds ahead of the German skier to claim his third runner-up finish of the season.

Watabe has 845 points in the overall standings, 60 ahead of Schmid heading into Sunday's final World Cup event before the Olympics.

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