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Watabe wins Nordic Combined silver for Japan

12 Feb 2014
Sochi, Russia: Japan won their second silver medal of the Sochi Winter Olympics – and their third medal in two days – when Akito Watabe finished second in the men’s Nordic Combined at Krasnaya Polyana on Wednesday. Watabe, who is from the 1998 Winter Olympics host city of Nagano, was involved in a two-man race for the gold medal with Germany’s Eric Frenzel but the Japanese athlete could not match the strength and stamina of his rival.

Frenzel mastered both aspects of the Nordic Combined by winning the ski jump phase on the Normal Hill and executing his 10km cross country strategy perfectly to take control of the race in the final stretch and win by 4.2 seconds.

“It was a hard battle, and I am glad to have won the silver medal,” said Watabe, 25. “I came here to try and win a medal and, while I am satisfied and happy to take the silver, I don’t think I did my best.

“I really wanted to win a gold medal. In the Nordic Combined the level is very high, so I need to work to reach my goal. I have to improve a lot of things but, for today, I am happy. I am going to continue to work with my team.”

Frenzel’s victory was always on the cards after he won the ski jump with a leap of 103m, leaving only Watabe, who jumped 100.5m, within 27 seconds of him at the start of the cross country race.

The two top-ranked athletes in the season’s World Cup standings then worked together for most of the four laps of the 2.5km cross country track to prevent a large group of skiers behind them from gaining too much ground. Magnus Krog (Norway) emerged from the chasing pack to win bronze.

Watabe’s silver medal put Japan on two silver and one bronze medal for the Games following the previous day’s two medals in men’s snowboard halfpipe.
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