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Ski jumping: Kobayashi joins select group with 20th podium finish

Ryoyu Kobayashi (Kyodo)

PLANICA, Slovenia (Kyodo) -- Japan's Ryoyu Kobayashi secured his 20th podium of the season when he finished runner-up to German Markus Eisenbichler in the first of two flying hill individual competitions at the season-ending round of the ski jumping World Cup on Friday.

According to the International Ski Federation, Kobayashi is only the third male ski jumper to claim at least 20 individual World Cup podiums in a single season, joining Slovenian Peter Prevc (22) and Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer (20) in the select group.

On Friday, Kobayashi, who has already claimed the overall World Cup crown, led after the first round of jumps with a leap of 242 meters, but he was forced to settle for second place when he could only muster a 220-meter effort in his second try, totaling 438.1 points.

"I wasted my chance, but it can't be helped," Kobayashi said.

"It's disappointing. I missed my timing at the take-off (on my second jump)," he said, adding that he is more relaxed now as "the end (of the season) is near."

Eisenbichler, winner of three gold medals at this year's FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, earned 445.0 points on jumps of 238.5 and 233 meters for his first career individual World Cup victory. Piotr Zyla of Poland came in third with 437.3 points.

The team event takes place Saturday, followed by the second individual event on Sunday.

Eisenbichler moved four points clear of Kobayashi in the ski flying standings.

"It's been such an eventful season. I hope I can end it here on a good note," Kobayashi said.

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