Golden Skate

Takahashi takes men’s event at World Team Trophy; Team Japan leads

Daisuke Takahashi

Japan's Daisuke Takahashi performs to "Blues for Klook" by Eddy Louis at the 2012 World Team Trophy of Figure Skating.

The 2012 ISU World Team Trophy continued with the Men’s Long Program. Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi won the event, out-skating World Champion Patrick Chan of Canada. The Japanese beat Chan for the first time since the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships. Brian Joubert of France pulled up to third place.

Takahashi put out a mesmerizing performance of his Blues for Klook routine. He was on the music from the beginning to the end, and his jumps were smooth— especially the two triple Axels.

The five-time Japanese Champion also hit a quad toe and earned a level four on both spins. His only error came when he underrotated the triple toe in the combination with a triple Axel.

With 182.72 points, the reigning World silver medalist surpassed his old personal best from the ISU Four Continents Championships 2008 (175.84 points). His total score was 276.72 points.

“It was the last program of the season,” noted Takahashi. “I was able to skate really well. I was very happy. There were some details I didn’t do well, but I was able to feel good out there and I was able to finish my program without major mistakes. I was able to contribute to the team.”

“I was quite nervous form this morning,” the 26-year-old continued. “I felt really relieved at the end. Coming into this competition, I was concentrating on the team. I focused on my own performance so that I could contribute to the Japanese team.”

“Maybe I wasn’t aware of it, but unconsciously I must have had this kind of feeling that I wanted to do better than at the World Championships,” he added when asked about beating Chan.

Chan appeared a bit off today. He not only fell on his second, underrotated quad toe after landing a shaky quad-triple toe combination, but also doubled the Axel. He appeared cautious and didn’t “live” his program like Takahashi did. The 21-year-old went through the choreography of his program as if he was on autopilot.

“It was a tough long program,” admitted the five-time Canadian Champion. “I had a tough six-minutes warm up. I was very happy to get a good program out despite of the warm up. This competition was a good end to the season.”

“You got to win some, you got to lose some,” Chan continued. “I treat each competition as an individual competition, and am not trying to keep my streak going as along as I can. Also, this is a team event and it is very different from any other event. I sat in the Kiss and Cry as a team. I’m looking at the team points and not at the individual points necessarily. I think it is a good test. It is a very different environment. I have to get used to that. The results were kind of a demonstration of how I felt standing out there.”

Joubert pulled off six clean triples, including two triple Axels, in his Matrix routine, however, the Frenchman did a three-turn out of the quad toe before tacking a double toe to it, and the triple flip received an edge call. The three-time European Champion scored 154.95 points and had 239.64 points overall.

“It was very, very hard,” confessed the 27-year-old. “I did the last complete run-through of my long program in Nice. I am still very satisfied with what I did. I fought well. Overall, I felt good in this competition and this confirms my feeling of having a good comeback.”

Teammate Florent Amodio landed a quad Salchow and six triples (but had an edge call for his flip) to move up from fifth to fourth (238.33 points).

“I felt really good,” said the reigning European bronze medalist. “I knew it was going to be tough because I lost a lot of conditioning after the World Championships, but I am very happy with the last performance of the season. I pulled off all the quads, all the triples, and there was only one triple Axel that became a double. I didn’t expect I’d be able to do that.”

U.S. Champion Jeremy Abbott crashed badly on a downgraded quad toe, singled a flip, and doubled two other jumps (234.37 points). Although he landed two triple Axels, a triple loop, and triple Lutz, the errors were costly and he dropped to fifth place.

“I went out there today and knew I wanted to enjoy the audience,” said the 26-year-old. “I started out with a bad mistake then followed up with my next jump. I got my feet back under me and I thought, ‘Whatever happens for the rest of the program, land, fall, win or fail, enjoy this moment’. I have to say I did. I didn’t enjoy the jumping part of it so much. I’ve had better days, but I’m happy that my season is over and I’m ready to move on and be five times stronger next year.”

Takahiko Kozuka of Japan finished sixth. He, too, missed a quad toe attempt and singled an Axel.

“I talked to Marina Zueva yesterday and she seemed to worry about me,” Kozuka revealed. “She said ‘you look so frustrated, maybe you were thinking about something else, maybe you worry about studying. Maybe you should not do both and focus more on skating. You have only two years to the Sochi Olympics’. I realized that’s true.”

“Today I was trying to put everything in it,” continued the 23-year-old. “This whole season I wasn’t concentrating well on skating. Now I got good advice for next season. I am not totally happy with today’s performance, but I think I learned something from this season. In the end, I could learn something and I am pretty happy to finish like this.”

USA’s Adam Rippon turned in a solid performance although he stepped out of the triple Axel and doubled the first planned triple Axel. He came seventh.

“There were some really good things in there and there were some things that were a little rough,” the two-time World Junior Champion said. “Overall, I hope I did enough to help my team win or medal at this World Team Trophy. I went out there and fought for everything.”

Kevin Reynolds attempted three different quads in one program. While the first (a quad Salchow) was solid, the quad toe was underrotated and he fell on an underrotated quad loop. The Canadian finished in eighth place.

Team Japan is now poised for gold with 59 points. The Japanese, who were tied yesterday with Team USA, now have an eight-point lead over the Americans. France defended their third place with 44 points. Team Italy (42 points) overtook Canada (40 points) and is now ranked fourth. Team Russian follows in sixth place with slim chances of moving up (34 points).

“I am very happy with the first place after the second day,” said Takahashi, Team Japan’s captain. “I had to prepare for my own performance, so I couldn’t watch the ice dancers or pairs, but with this first place I can feel that everybody made their best efforts. Coming into this competition I was concentrated on the team. I focused on my own performance so that I could contribute to the Japanese team. Maybe I wasn’t aware of it, but unconsciously I must have had this kind of feeling that I wanted to do better than at the World Championships.”

“Today was a good day for Team USA,” U.S. Team captain Charlie White commented. “Our pairs team put themselves in a good position to place well going into free skate. It’s real tight in there. Both Adam and Jeremy, I think, were hoping for better skates, but I commend the fight they showed. I know it’s not easy.”

“Team Japan is looking strong,” noted White. “Moving forward, we would like to chip away at the lead with ladies and pairs. We will do what we can and cross our fingers from our condo up there.”

“As the French captain I had a great day today because of the performances of the French team,” said Nathalie Pechalat. “It was a very good competition, and I am very pleased to end this season with this kind of feeling. Fabian and myself are very happy. We are strong, we are a good team. For tomorrow we want to keep it the same way and have fun. I don’t want anybody to be stressed. This is the last competition. I told my teammates, ‘just do it, do your best, and if you don’t do your best, don’t care, because we will cheer for you in the Kiss & Cry’.”