Mura gains consistency

Takahito Mura

Japan's Takahito Mura performs to "Primavera Porteña" at the 2012 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

Takahito Mura has been a part of the strong Japanese men’s figure skating team since 2006 when he debuted at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Slovenia.

Since then, Mura has competed at many international events, but it wasn’t until the 2012 ISU Four Continents Championships 2012 in Colorado Springs in February that the now 21-year-old really turned heads.

While his jumps are huge, they are not always consistent. In Colorado Springs, however, Mura put out a career-best short program with a quad-triple toe and triple Axel to place second. He was overwhelmed by the fact that he even beat his accomplished teammate Daisuke Takahashi.

“I was very surprised to be in second and to be ahead of Daisuke,” he said.

However, inconsistency struck once again in the free skating and Mura dropped to fifth. Nevertheless, he competed in an ISU Championship for the first time since finishing 15th at the World Championships in 2009, and it was his best result since coming fifth at the 2006 Junior Worlds.

“Because of my unbelievable placement after the short program, I felt a lot of pressure,” explained Mura. “I never felt this much pressure ever, so I did not know how to handle it. I learned from this experience and I need to gather my confidence do both the short program and the free skate cleanly.”

Mura hails from a skating family. Both parents were competitive figure skaters and his father, Takashi , was a silver medalist at the 1976 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships. He went on to compete at the World Championships in boths singles and pairs in the 80s.

However, in spite of his family history, Takahito Mura didn’t originally want to become a figure skater.

“I wanted to be a car racer,” he revealed, “but because of my father I eventually went into skating. My first memory of skating is that we had a show at our ice rink and I skated with the performers.”

Takashi Mura is a coach and teaches his son himself.

“At practices, he is not my father but only my coach,” Mura pointed out.

“Sometimes it is difficult to separate practice from private life at home,” Mura admitted. “When I was younger, it was hard for me that my father was my coach, but now it is okay.”

But the 21-year-old doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps in the future.

“I don’t want to become a coach,” he stated. “I would like to be a show skater later on.”

Mura started his season with a win at Finlandia Trophy in October.

“I was very happy about winning Finlandia Trophy, but then I was sad that I didn’t get a Grand Prix event,” he shared. “At Nationals, my short was really bad and I thought that my season is over. Then the free skating went very well.”

He pulled up to fifth place in the free at nationals, and thus earned his spot on the Four Continents team.

Now the skater is making plans for next season.

“I came to Colorado Springs last summer to work with Tom Dickson and I want to come back this year,” Mura revealed. “Maybe I’ll have two new programs for the next season, but I am not sure yet.”

Off the ice, Mura is studying sports science and trains in Toyota City. In his spare time, he enjoys playing darts, billiards, golf, and driving. He has his own car, not a race car, but a normal Japanese car.

Mura describes his character as “very stubborn”.

“I think this is a strong point for me, but sometimes I am not flexible enough,” he analyzed.

When talking about stubbornness, a little episode from Finlandia Trophy 2008 comes to mind when he won his first senior international. The then 17-year-old surprised everyone by saying that he didn’t intend to compete at the junior level anymore (although he still would have been age eligible).

“I want to push myself harder by competing only in seniors,” he stated at the time.

It worked out as he took the bronze at the 2009 Nationals and qualified for his Worlds that year.

Mura’s idol in the sport is 2002 Olympic Champion Alexei Yagudin of Russia.

“Mainly I look up to Yagudin because of the jumps, but also he impressed people with his skating and his programs,” said Mura. “In figure skating, my favorite part is jumping and I like to practice jumps. I want to impress people with my jumps.”

“Recently I like everything about skating,” he added. “Before, I didn’t like working on my skating skills so much.”

Mura has definitely improved his overall skating and  has gained more consistency in his jumps. However, he knows it will be tough to break through in Japan with strong rivals such as Takahashi, Takahiko Kozuka, and raising star Yuzuru Hanyu. Perhaps Nobunari Oda also will come back as well.

“My ultimate goal is to go to the Olympic Games and to be on the podium,” Mura said firmly, “but I also want to impress people with my skating, like Yagudin did.”

He certainly did impress people with his short program at Four Continents and offered a glimpse of his big potential.

“Right now, this short program is the highlight of my career so far,” the skater said, adding that it gives him confidence for the future.

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