Japan's Watabe finally tastes World Cup winning feeling again
Germany's domination of this season's individual World Cup circuit came to an end as Japan's Akito Watabe delighted home fans with victory in Sapporo.
Of the 18 previous individual competitions this season, all of them had been won by Germans with Johannes Rydzek topping the overall standings.
His lead was pegged back slightly on Saturday though as Watabe took top honours ahead of Switzerland's Tim Hug.
There was a German on the podium though with Manuel Faisst coming home third as none of the World Cup top three athletes – Rydzek, Eric Frenzel and Fabian Riessle – opted to compete.
Watabe had finished as runner up a day earlier but topped the podium after overcoming a 25-second deficit in the 10km cross country leg to finish with a time of 25 minutes 55.9 seconds to claim his first individual World Cup win in two years.
"I'm simply happy. (But) a win was the minimum here," said Watabe as he cited the absence of this season's three top skiers — all from Germany — at the meet.
"I botched my jump so it wasn't an outing that I can be satisfied with 100 percent."
His compatriot Hisaki Nagamine again came out on top after the ski jumping as he leapt 138 metres to score 128.8 points but he struggled on the cross country leg, plummeting to 23rd overall.
Watabe's victory sees him move onto 826 points for fourth in the World Cup standings but still some way behind Rydzek on 1390.