Golden Skate

Takahashi takes men’s short at World Team Trophy

Daisuke Takahashi

Japan's Daisuke Takahashi performs to "In the Garden of Souls" at the 2012 World Team Trophy.

The 2012 ISU World Team Trophy of Figure Skating continued with the Men’s Short Program. Daisuke Takahashi of Japan grabbed the lead ahead of Canada’s Patrick Chan and USA’s Jeremy Abbott.

Takahashi nailed a quad toe, a triple Axel, and a triple Lutz-triple toe in his exquisite program to In the Garden of  Souls. The reward was a new short program record score of 94.00 points in an ISU competition. However, the Japanese remained modest as always.

“I think the judges were a little generous with my score,” the Olympic bronze medalist said with a smile. “I sort of tripped in my footwork and the spin was not quite perfect.”

Takahashi said he had a charity event and TV appearances after the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships, so it was mentally tough to prepare for this event.

“It was a lot of work and I had to overcome the fatigue from Worlds,” explained the 26-year-old. “Once you are here, you are motivated, but to keep training after the World Championships was tough.”

Skating to Take Five, Chan produced a beautiful quad toe and a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, as well as two level-four spins and level four footwork, however he fell on the triple Axel. Nevertheless, the two-time and reigning World Champion posted a new season’s best with 89.81 points.

“It was a much better program overall than even Worlds,” said Chan. “I felt much better. The smoothness of my skating was better than at Worlds because I felt more comfortable and relaxed. The quad toe was great. The Axel has been great all season, but sometimes you have to make mistakes.”

“Overall the program was great,” summed up the 21-year-old. “It’s the World Team Trophy, not the World Championships. I’m not so uptight. I’m much more in my music, in my personality, and I get to play with the audience and the judges especially. This is why I think the components were higher than usual. I think it was well deserved.”

Abbott rebounded from his disappointing showing at Worlds with a flawless routine, reeling off a triple flip-triple toe, a triple Axel, and a triple Lutz. His spins and the footwork all garnered a level four, and the U.S. Champion interpreted his Swing program in an excellent manner. He picked up 86.98 points.

“This was the performance I would have loved to have had at the World Championships,” admitted the U.S. Champion, “but better late than never. At Worlds, I put so much pressure on myself because I finally felt that I had a chance to get a medal or to win. I’ve always had the skill, but it’s the first time I believed it in my heart. It was a heavy weight.”

Today, however, Abbott wanted to skate for himself and his team.

“There is always pressure for competition, but you try to put it to the side and focus on yourself and what you have to do,” said the 26-year-old. “I could hear my team cheering for me really loud. It made me do that much better for me and for them and for my family at home.”

Brian Joubert of France finished fourth (84.69) after landing a quad-triple toe combination,a triple Axel, and triple Lutz in his routine to Genesis.

“I found my confidence again,” said the veteran skater. ‘In Nice it was great, but today it was even better. My jumps were very clean. The quad toe was very good in practice. I made no mistakes and I felt good in the program. I am going for two quads in the free skating. It is like a practice for the next season.”

Teammate Florent Amodio hit a quad Salchow and triple Lutz-triple toe combination, but did a three turn out of the triple Axel to finish fifth (81.84 points).

“It was really hard today,” said Amodio. “I took a break after Worlds because I was training so hard before. I resumed training only four days ago. So physically, it is tough but it is a great pleasure to be here. The whole competition feels less serious and it is more fun to be here with the teammates. We want to put on a good show for the fans.”

Kevin Reynolds of Canada was the first of five men overall to perform a quadruple jump in the short program. The Canadian completed a quad Salchow-triple toe combination, as well as a triple Axel and a triple Lutz. The reward was a new season’s best of 78.82 points.

“It was good to get the credit for the quad Salchow-triple toe which had been bugging me all season,” shared Reynolds. “It’s good to finish out on a high note and to perform so well in front of the Japanese crowd here.”

USA’s Adam Rippon opened his routine with a triple flip-triple toe, but stumbled on both the triple Axel and triple Lutz. He currently sits in seventh (74.93).

“It is the last competition of the season and it was definitely a lot of fun,” said Rippon. “I am looking forward to skating again tomorrow. Today was a little bit shaky. The more I’m here, the more comfortable I feel, so I’m excited for tomorrow.”

Takahiko Kozuka of Japan struggled with his jumps, falling on the quad toe and the triple Lutz. He finished eighth (73.61).