Takahashi edges out Verner for NHK gold
Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi edged out Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic for the gold, while USA’s Stephen Carriere maintained third overall to win the bronze.
Takahashi fell on his opening quadruple toeloop attempt in his routine to Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, but quickly recovered to produce a strong and nearly flawless routine.
The World silver medalist landed a total of eight clean triple jumps which included a triple Axel-double toeloop-double loop combination, and produced very good spins and footwork. All his non-jumping elements received positive Grades of Execution (GoE), and he placed first in the long with a new seasonal best of 156.33 (81.33/76.00) points.
With a total score of 234.22 points, the Japanese champion moved up from second to first place overall.
However, the 21-year-old felt he could have done better.
“My performance wasn’t perfect,” said Takahashi. “I wanted to do two quads. I [attempted] only one,
but achieved my goal to win NHK Trophy. I know what I have to work on for the next event. “I’ll need two quads, and for that I need more accuracy on my jumps in practice.”
Overnight leader Verner also produced an equally strong routine, landing a quadruple toeloop, but he popped a triple Axel which cost him severely in the Total Element Score. He otherwise delivered seven good triple jumps in all, four level four spins, and produced two good level three footwork sequences in his Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon routine.
The European silver medalist placed second in the long with 151.30 (76.30/75.00) points, and with a total of 229.45 points, slipped to second overall.
“Finally I did what I am supposed to do,” said Verner with relief. “There is still room for improvement on the jumps. I left a lot of points on the ice today, and I feel sorry about that. But this was the first competition where I did a good job. This competition wasn’t about beating Daisuke. After [my performance in] Paris (Trophée Bompard), I just wanted to show that I’m back in the figure skating world.”
Carriere placed third in the long with a new personal best of 137.13 (67.73/69.40) points, despite making errors on three jumps in his Hollywood Nocturne routine.
The current World Junior champion turned out the landing of his opening triple Axel and was later penalized for use of the wrong take-off edge on a triple flip. He also stepped out of his second triple Axel in what was intended to be a combination jump.
The 2006-07 Junior Grand Prix Final champion otherwise landed five clean triple jumps and was awarded a level four for two of his spins.
“It was not perfect,” admitted the 18-year-old. The whole week has been a kind of adventure. I am proud to have won my first Grand Prix medal. All this is a preparation for my Nationals and hopefully for Four Continents and Worlds. I am ready to hit Nationals hard.”
Teammate Jeremy Abbott, who stood in 12th after the short, rebounded in the long with a new personal best of 129.29 (70.29/61.00) points for a fourth place finish in the long and overall (187.56 points).
The 2007 Four Continents bronze medalist fell on a quadruple toeloop and triple flip, but otherwise landed six triples. He also produced three level four spins, as well as two good level three footwork sequences.
Andrei Griazev of Russia placed fifth in the long (120.78 points), moving up from 11th to seventh place overall (182.83 points). The Russian Champion landed a good triple Axel-triple toeloop, but doubled a Lutz and encountered problems on two other triple jumps as well as a double Axel.
Teammate Sergei Dobrin placed a close sixth in the long (120.39 points) and fifth overall (186.53 points). The Russian bronze medalist underrotated a quadruple toeloop and made mistakes on several other jumps as well.
Sergei Davydov of Belarus slipped from fifth to sixth place overall (184.70 points) after placing seventh in the long.
Yasuharu Nanri of Japan, who stood in fourth after the short, placed 11th in the long and fell to tenth overall.
Verner earned 13 points at this event, but with a total of 18 points, is now the third substitute for the GPF.
Carriere took 11 points and will be the first substitute with a total of 20 points.
Takahashi picked up another 15 points at this event, qualifying for the Grand Prix Final (GPF) of Figure Skating which will be held Dec. 13-16, 2007, in Torino, Italy. He will be competing against: USA’s Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek, Canada’s Patrick Chan, Switzerland’s Stephane Lambiel, and Belgium’s Kevin Van der Perren.