PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Japan’s Akito Watabe took a lead of just one second into the cross-country portion of Tuesday’s Olympic Nordic Combined after outscoring his rivals in the ski jump.
With a leap of 134 metres, he earned 138.9 points to lead from Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riber on 138.6 and Wilhelm Denifl of Austria (135.0) after all competitors had completed their jumps from the 142-metre Large Hill. In the Nordic Combined, each point advantage from the ski jump translates into a four-second head start in the 10km cross-country race that follows - making the event a test of daring, technique and endurance.
Three Germans - Eric Frenzel, Johannes Rydzek and Fabian Riessle, were in places four to six, in an event where Germany has never won an Olympic gold.
Watabe, silver medallist in the other Nordic Combined event from the smaller Normal Hill last Wednesday, clapped his hands in delight on landing his jump successfully and realising it was enough to take him into the lead.
The Normal Hill event was won by Frenzel, with Austria’s Lukas Klapfer taking the bronze.
Reporting by Mark Trevelyan, editing by Ed Osmond