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Japan in gold rush despite weather delay to favourite event

21 Feb 2017
Sapporo, Japan, February 21, 2017: The snowfalls which have transformed Sapporo into a perfect wonderland for the Asian Winter Games forced the postponement of one of the host-nation’s favourite events on Tuesday. The first men’s ski jump event at the iconic Miyanomori stadium was rescheduled for Wednesday because of gusting winds on the mountain, disappointing the thousands of fans, including busloads of excited school children, who have braved the arctic conditions to watch the daredevil event.

The ski jump hill at Sapporo is etched into Japanese sporting folklore because it was there that the host-nation completed a unique sweep of all three medals when they hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972, with Yukio Kasaya becoming the first Japanese competitor to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

Tuesday’s heavy falls also disrupted some of the practice for the alpine events at Sapporo Teine, but it was still a day to celebrate for Japan as the hosts collected five more gold medals to leapfrog Korea at the top of the medals table with 23 medals in total, including gold.

Four of Tuesday’s gold medals came in the speed skating events at Obihiro while thf fifth was in cross country skiing. Nao Kodaira picked up her second gold medal in as may days when she won the women’s 500m race. The reigning world champion also won the 1,000m gold 24 hours earlier.

Miho Takagi  won the women's 1,500 while Takuro Oda was victorious in the men's 1,000 and Japan made it a clean sweep of the four speed skating events on offer by winning the women's team pursuit.

Yuki Kobayashi won the women’s 10-kilometre cross-country free race, one of the most gruelling events at the Games, while Rinat Mukhim won the men’s 15km race to give Kazakhstan its first gold medal in Sapporo.
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