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Sato jumps to gold at iconic Miyanomori

22 Feb 2017
Sapporo, Japan, February 22, 2017: At the Sapporo Winter Olympics in 1972, ski jump legend Yukio Kasaya led an historic Japanese 1-2-3 on the normal hill at Miyanomori Ski Jump Stadium. At the same iconic venue on Wednesday, Yukiya Sato clinched another gold medal for Japan on the normal hill at the 8th Asian Winter Games.

The 21-year-old jumper from nearby Ishikari took gold with a total score of 254 points from his two jumps in perfect conditions – bright sunshine and almost zero wind, just one day after strong gusts had forced the postponement of the event on Tuesday morning.

Team-mate Yuken Iwasa took silver with 251 points and Kazakhstan’s Sergey Tkachenko finished third with 238 points to win the bronze in the 16-strong field featuring four athletes each from Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea and China. Sato, who is a member of the Megmilk Snow Brand ski jump team, gave himself a mark of 75 per cent for his overall performance.

“The conditions were good and this helped me,” he said. “Overall I am very happy to get the gold medal because everyone was trying to win the same thing.” When asked how he felt to win gold on the same hill where Olympic history was made in 1972, Sato replied: “It’s a great feeling, and what happened here in the Winter Olympics definitely inspired me today.”

Sato’s target now is to win a place on the Japanese ski jump team for the Winter Olympics at PyeongChang, Korea, next February – a tough task in itself with so much competition within the country. Sato, a leading junior at world level who is trying to realise that potential now in the senior ranks, could not even make Japan’s five-strong team competing now at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland.

He still has one year to turn that round, but admitted his chances of competing at PyeongChang 2018 were “quite low” at this moment. He couldn’t do anymore at Miyanomori on Wednesday, though, winning the only gold medal available on the normal hill before ski jumping moves to the imposing Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium for the men’s large hill individual on Friday and team on Saturday, with both events starting at 5.30pm.
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