Watabe finally secures first Nordic Combined World Cup

World Cup winner: Japan's Akito Watabe

Japanese skier Akito Watabe made sure of winning the Nordic Combined World Cup when he finished third in Klingenthal in Germany on Sunday.

Germans took the first two spots Sunday with Fabian Riessle first and Johannes Rydzek second but the key for Watabe was that he finished one place ahead of veteran Norwegian Jan Schmid.

Watabe had both a better jump score and a better cross-country time as he easily beat Schmid. That increased Watabe's lead in the standings to 212 points and, with only two more two events, in Schonach, Germany, next weekend, is assured of at last winning his first world title.

Watabe, a 29-year-old native of Hakuba, winner of the Olympic gold in the normal hill/10-kilometre event in both 2014 and last month in Pyeongchang, had finished in the top three in the World Cup overall in the last six seasons and was runner up in 2015 and 2016 to the German Eric Frenzel.