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June 27, 2017

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Poland's Kamil Stoch takes second Olympic gold in ski jumping

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Kamil Stoch considers himself fortunate to have won his second gold medal of the Sochi Olympics, overcoming what he called a "tragic" final jump Saturday to claim a narrow victory over Japanese veteran Noriaki Kasai.

Still, the 26-year-old from Poland will take it, completing a sweep of the normal and large hills and becoming only the third jumper — after Simon Amman and Matti Nykanen — to win double jumping golds in the same Winter Games.

"I have weird thoughts at this moment. I'm thinking, 'Is it happening for real or is it a dream?'" he said.

"I'm not thinking about the fact that I'm third in history. It's a shock for me that I made it because of the jumps I did today. The second jump was tragic."

Stoch, who dedicated the win to his wife, Ewa, as a belated Valentine's Day wish, said he was lacking in confidence heading into the final.

"Today I was nervous all day from the morning to the end of the competition," he said. "I made some mistakes, but what the heck, I won the competition."

Kasai took silver while Peter Prevc of Slovenia, who won silver in the normal hill, earned the bronze Saturday.

Jumping last in the first round after the trial round was canceled due to fluctuating winds, Stoch jumped 139 meters and totaled 143.4 points to give him a three-point lead over Kasai, a margin the Japanese jumper whittled down to 1.3 points after the final round.

Kasai, whose first Olympics was at Albertville, France in 1992, now has Olympic medals 20 years apart — he won his first, a team silver with Japan in the large hill — in 1994 at Lillehammer, Norway.

Kasai finished eighth in the normal hill last week, but said Saturday he should have done better.

"I took the medal that I didn't take in the normal hill," Kasai said. "Then I felt regret and now I feel happy."

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