Industry News

[February 19, 2006]

Olympics: Harada's Olympics over after missing place in team event+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)PRAGELATO, Italy, Feb. 19_(Kyodo) _ Veteran ski jumper Masahiko Harada saw his fifth trip to an Olympic Games end in misery Sunday after failing to make the lineup for Japan for the team event.

Harada will now head home even without putting his name on the official standings of any of the three ski jumping events at the Turin Games after being disqualified from the normal hill and left out of the large hill.

National coach Kari Ylianttila named Daiki Ito, Tsuyoshi Ichinohe, Noriaki Kasai and Takanobu Okabe to the four-man Japanese team for Monday's team event at the K-125 large hill.

The four jumpers appeared in the individual large hill event Saturday and Okabe came eighth for the best finish for Japan.

High school student Kenshiro Ito failed to make the team and will leave Italy without jumping in competition.

Harada, a member of the gold medal-winning team at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, lost a chance earlier Sunday to impress the Finn coach for the last time in an official practice for the team event.

Bad weather conditions forced the cancellation of the practice and Ylianttila said he picked the four based on their performances in the normal hill and large hill as well as practice jumps held earlier.

In his last practice jump, Harada failed to impress with a 112.5-meter jump on the large hill Friday.

Harada is widely known for his affable demeanor and the highlight of his rollercoaster career came in Nagano when he won two Olympic medals with the team gold and the large hill bronze.

Four years earlier in Lillehammer, he became famous worldwide for a gigantic blunder as the final jumper of the Japanese team heading for a comfortable victory. Okabe and Kasai were also on the team in Lillehammer that settled for silver behind winner Germany.

At the Turin Olympics, Harada clinched the last of four spots for Japan in the normal hill after a string of impressive practice jumps.

However, he was disqualified for violating the regulation over ski lengths after a jump in the qualification round, which would have put him in the main competition if not for the gaffe.

After winning the gold on home snow in Nagano, Japan finished fifth in the team event at the 2002 Salt Lake City.

Japan even failed to advance to the second round of jumps at last year's Nordic skiing world championships, with its ski jumpers having struggled in international competition in recent years,

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