Photo/IllutrationSki jumper Ryoyu Kobayashi in Oslo on March 10 after securing the men’s overall World Cup title. (Kosuke Inagaki)

  • Photo/Illustraion

OSLO--Ryoyu Kobayashi skied into the history books on March 10, becoming the first non-European to win the men's overall title in ski jumping at the World Cup.

The 22-year-old native of Hachimantai, Iwate Prefecture, expressed a mix of elation and sadness, as his triumph came on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami that struck the Tohoku region in March 2011, including his home prefecture.

Thus far, the best a Japanese skier has fared in the competition for the overall title was second, captured by Kazuyoshi Funaki in the 1997-1998 season.

Speaking about the title win, Kobayashi said: "I'm elated because I have thought that it is bigger than (winning at) the Olympics."

Asked about the timing of the win, Kobayashi said: "Yes, it's March 11 (in Japan). Recalling those days eight years ago, I think that I have grown (as a ski jumper).

"My happy news (however) overlaps with sad memories. I hope today will be a day when the people of Iwate Prefecture feel encouraged."

In World Cup individual ski jumping, competitors vie for the overall title based on scores given to those who finish in the top 30 in each event.

Kobayashi finished in fifth in the March 10 event, while Kamil Stoch of Poland, who had been chasing the Japanese skier, finished 13th, giving Kobayashi a comfortable 500-point lead over the second-place Stoch.

The event was the season's 23rd, with five events remaining on the circuit.

If a jumper finishes first in an event, he is given 100 points. Stoch would thus have to win the remaining five events, and Kobayashi would have to place lower than 30th in those events for Stoch to make up the point difference.

In such a case, however, the jumper who finishes first in more events is given the overall title. As Kobayashi placed first in 11 events this season, more than Stoch, Kobayashi secured the overall title.

Kobayashi competed in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018, finishing seventh in the normal-hill event and 10th in the large-hill event.

At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the then-14-year-old was in Niigata Prefecture participating in a junior ski jumpers' competition.

“I remember that the hotel I was staying at shook violently,” he said.

The men’s World Cup ski jumping events started in the 1979-1980 season.