Kana Muramoto & Daisuke Takahashi


Final Flight
Mar 1, 2014
Congrats to Kana and Dai for finishing their first Nationals together on the podium! The RD was fire – great improvements on all fronts! 🔥

Belated Happy Holidays, everyone! :hb::hb:

The same to you, but first all: Happy belated birthday, dear deedee! 🥳

I recall last year you got to watch Nationals and Dai’s practice in person on your special day. Hope you had the opportunity to watch Kana and Dai this time too – either live in the arena or on TV.

Congrats to KanaDai on winning the Silver Medal!

Olympic Channel article

Thanks for the article, demarinis. :)

I see, Nick McCarvel wrote they fell on a spin – I guess he confused the StaLi with a spin. 🧐 They improved their combination spin in comparison to the NHK Trophy! I liked Dai’s bent leg position in the camel and it’s nice they got level 2 this time.

It wouldn't be surprising, if the stumbles happened in part, because of Dai’s preoccupation with the unfortunate accident on Saturday, even if he said he felt calm during the FD. I can imagine it was somewhere in the back of both of their minds the entire competition. In some different angle news footage of the fall on the StaLi it was obvious Dai did his utmost not to drop Kana and protect her injured knee. They were both very supportive of each other. Not only did Kana say she felt 100% protected by Dai-chan, she also immediately cut him off when he beat himself up in the Kiss & Cry (as quoted in the article). 🤗

I still loved their FD - I know there were a few bobbles in the FD but imagine when they are clean 😍😍😍. Can’t wait to see this team win medals next year ❤️❤️❤️

La Bayadere truly is a gorgeous, intricate program. 🥰 They absolutely should keep it for next season. I just wonder, if maybe Marina and the coaching/choreo team can come up with an alternative for the StaLi? It requires sooo much strength and seems to be too ambitious for now. I’m sure the rest will come together with practice, experience and resulting higher confidence. It was already so, so good at NHK, just needs a bit more polishing.
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Final Flight
Mar 1, 2014

Thank you to all kind uploaders and translators! :bow:
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Final Flight
Mar 1, 2014
Good news! Kana shared through her ig account that her knee is ok and confirmed her and Dai's first skate of the new year on January 11th*:

* This is in reference to a promotional event they will do for Sky Court. Kana tweeted the link to Dai's and her video message today, in which they announce the event, reflect on Nationals, thank their fans for the support and wish us all a happy new year:

Event details:

Sky Court presents
Kana Muramoto / Daisuke Takahashi 2021 First Skate Special!

Distribution start: 2021/1/11 (Monday / holiday) 19:30
Archive delivery available ~ 2021/1/18 (Monday) 23:59
Viewing ticket release date: 2020/12/21 (Monday) 12: 00-
Cast: Kana Muramoto, Daisuke Takahashi

Contents (planned)*:
  • Talk corner /
  • Kana Muramoto / Daisuke Takahashi logo announcement /
  • Ice dance simulated experience video** / etc.
** In the ice dance simulated experience, we will deliver the image from the perspective of Kana Muramoto. You can experience the video as if you were ice dancing with Daisuke Takahashi!

* The contents are subject to change due to various circumstances. Please note. Recording time (planned) 90 to 120 minutes



Dai will release e new DVD/Blu-ray on his 35th birthday titled "The Real Athlete Phoenix":



Two years after returning to active duty for men's singles figure skating I followed the appearance of this season who challenged ice dancing A gem of documentary and acting collection!

It's been two years since the shock of the summer of 2018 returned to active duty. Includes documentary footage and tournament footage that can only be seen here, following the two years since the return of legend Daisuke Takahashi, who led the men's singles world in figure skating, and the 2020 challenge of ice dancing. In the bonus video, a special performance collection selected by Daisuke Takahashi himself and a newly shot interview are also included, which are memorable performances of the single era. In addition to the popular footage recorded in the previous work "The Real Athlete", some of the tournament footage will also include acting footage newly recorded in this work! The included privilege is an original photo book. Daisuke Takahashi will release Blu-ray & DVD on his 35th birthday!
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Gold for the Winter Prince!
Record Breaker
Jan 23, 2004
Kana's instagram.

Dai's instagram. Click the arrow on right to see photo of Dai!

Wishing a Happy and Fruitful New year to Kana and Dai and to all their fans here in FF

Here is a short conversation with KanaDai after the competition. English subtitles. Thank you to
Izayukam for translation.

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Final Flight
Mar 1, 2014
Good news! Kana shared through her ig account that her knee is ok and confirmed her and Dai's first skate of the new year on January 11th*:

* This is in reference to a promotional event they will do for Sky Court. Kana tweeted the link to Dai's and her video message today, in which they announce the event, reflect on Nationals, thank their fans for the support and wish us all a happy new year:


Here's a sneak peek of the ice dance simulated experience, which has apparently just been preshot at the new rink in Funabashi with a GoPro on Kana's head for next Monday's event:

Google translation of the article:

Sky Court presents Kana Muramoto / Daisuke Takahashi 2021 First Skate Special! Will be delivered on January 11th (Monday / holiday).

The pair of Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi has been paired since the 2020-2021 season and has participated in ice dance competitions. Kana Muramoto, who was already active in ice dance, formed a pair by inviting Daisuke Takahashi and suggesting a shift to ice dance. At the end of last year, he finished second in the "All Japan Figure Skating Championships".

The state of the two people's first skate in 2021 will be delivered on "Streaming +". Various projects are planned for this distribution, such as a talk corner and the announcement of the logo of the Kana Muramoto / Daisuke Takahashi pair. In the video from Kana Muramoto's eyes, you can enjoy a simulated experience as if you were ice dancing with Daisuke Takahashi. Delivering the first skate of two people full of immersive feeling comments arrived from the ice from the two people immediately after shooting at the rink! In this video, along with Daisuke Takahashi, Kana Muramoto with a camera on her head, saying "I'm a cameraman" appears. A part of the eyes from Kana Muramoto while doing ice dancing in this state is also recorded. According to Kana Muramoto, "I think I was able to take a picture of the world with a wonderful expression." I can't wait to see the two perform together on the ice.




Another promo clip for the event on Monday (of the "talk corner") was published today:

Kana's ig account: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJ2SN5Ysv2-/
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Final Flight
Apr 27, 2011
I watched the new year special last Monday, and just re-watched it in archive today. I want to share a bit from it here.

It was not live, but pre-recorded and edited. It showed their talks and training footages alternately.

They showed their first practice of this year. They hadn’t skated for a week, and he got news boots which are still tough and not comfortable. Dai said it was a bit scary to skate with her in the beginning, but they gradually warmed up. A lady with a camera followed them skate, so the viewers could feel their speed. Later, Kana wore a camera on her forehead to show what it feels like to skate with Dai.

He got a new pair of boots and blades. The new blades are a little thinner and a little more curved on the backside. He changed because the old ones made noise when he made a turn and he felt like he couldn’t make turns the way he intended although he was not sure yet if it was because of the blades or his lack of technique. He seemed to like his new blades so far. The new boots are by the same manufacture, but a different model with 5 mm higher heels.

Kana’s injury was not serious, and she can skate now. But her left leg still hurts a little, and she needs some more rest before she resumes vigorous training. Dai implied he was also injured although he didn’t tell details.

Dai is told to grow his hair :biggrin: (by Marina?).

Their goal of this year is to become National Champions. :cheer:
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Final Flight
Apr 27, 2011
Kanako Murakami visited Kana and Dai at Ice Park Funabashi for a local TV program.

3:00 - Kanako asked Dai why he decided to switch to ice dance, and he answered that he wanted to learn skating skills more.
4:00 - The difference between ice dance and pairs
8:55 - Kanako tries ice dance!
9:40 - Kana feels Dai on her left shoulder blade in the Kilian Hold.
10:25 - Woman has to let her partner to lead. She shouldn't move spontaneously.
14:00 - Initially Dai's costume for FD had more ornaments, but Kana's costume got hooked during SlLi when they tried them for the first time in practice, and she couldn't get off his shoulder.
15:15 - Their objective for this year is to become National Champions.


Gold for the Winter Prince!
Record Breaker
Jan 23, 2004
^^^ I was hoping they could go to get one more competition under their belt this season. Thanks for the info.


Final Flight
Mar 1, 2014
EU banned travelers from Japan this month due to increasing new COVID cases in the country.
Looks like Kana and Dai can get minimal TES for Worlds with video evaluation according to ISU Communication No. 2370.
I also saw in Twitter they are already back in Florida.

I think that the ISU came up with a fair alternative procedure to obtain min TES. To Kana and Dai it's only useful, if they're called up as susbstitutes for Worlds though since minima acquired via video evaluation won't carry over to future seasons. If they obtain their TES mins at the CC they would still be valid next season. In theory they could still compete there since elite athletes "participating in an international sporting event" can be exempted from the travel ban, if they meet a number of criteria (such as having a note verbale or a letter of invitation from the Netherlands Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF)).

The organisers of the CC published their general regulations and covid protocols last month. Last updated version from today:

The registration deadline was January 28th, but the registered competitors haven't been announced yet.

However I hope Kana and Dai won't take the risk of travelling across the globe again and subject themselves to all that hassle to receive permission to compete just for min scores.

Thanks for sharing that they are back in Florida. I didn't see that on twitter. :)
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Final Flight
Apr 27, 2011
^^^ I was hoping they could go to get one more competition under their belt this season. Thanks for the info.

Yeah, I wanted them to have one last competition in this season. But on the other hand, I'm glad they don't have to take a risk of getting the damn virus by traveling a long distance, and they can spend more time with their coaches preparing for next season. I wonder which videos they are going to submit, just NHK Trophy and/or National footages, or whether they are going to film new videos, especially of FD.
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Record Breaker
Oct 25, 2014
Yeah, I wanted them to have one last competition in this season. But on the other hand, I'm glad they don't have to take a risk of getting the damn virus by traveling a long distance, and they can spend more time with their coaches preparing for next season. I wonder which videos they are going to submit, just NHK Trophy and/or National footages, or whether they are going to film new videos, especially of FD.
I think they'd have to do a new skate, as there are camera placement requirements for submitted footage. Also, I would hope they have improved since those competitions!

Skate Canada's Challenge was filmed with the same sort of requirements, and I enjoyed it. The lack of multiple cameras and cuts is kind of soothing, and makes you feel like you are watching live, but with the best seat in the house and zoom vision. It was also filmed by professional videographers who knew how to use the zoom button effectively!


Final Flight
Mar 1, 2014
Kana and Dai are not on the entry list for the Challenge Cup (nor any other Japanese skaters), so it looks like the season is indeed over for them (unless they get to compete as alternates at Worlds). Now they can prepare for next season without stress. (I hope!) The pattern dance element for the Olympic season's RD is "Midnight Blues" and the rhythms have to be selected from street dance rhythms, e.g. "hip hop, disco, swing, krump, popping, funk, jazz, reggae (reggaeton) and blues". (source) I'm looking forward to KanaDai's interpretation - this should be right up their (esp. Dai's) alley!

Quadruple Axel, the Japanese figure skating magazine which usually focuses on male single skaters, features ice dance in this month's issue with Kana and Dai on the cover.

It will have interviews with Marina, Massimo, Utako-sensei, Satsuki (Kana's sister, a former single skater and now works as a coach) and Cathy.
It will also have articles of basics of ice dance and other Japanese ice dance teams.

Since there aren't that many KanaDai news at the moment, I machine translated some of the interviews in Quadruple Axel's January issue. There wasn't a lot of new information, but a few interesting bits here and there. The most surprising to me is that Kana's sister, Satsuki, said she suggested Kana should ask Dai to team up with her. I recall Marina saying it was Meryl, who came up with the idea. Seems they both had the same brilliant epiphany independently! :rock:

Anyway, this is the (DeepL-) translation of Satsuki's interview (I've found that DeepL works much better than Google translate):

Special guest – Satsuki Muramoto

A world just for the two of them

Born in 1990 in Hyogo Prefecture. As a skater, she competed in women's singles, finishing third at the 2006 All-Japan Junior Championships and competing at the 2007 World Junior Championships. In 2020, she moved to Japan and become a coach at the Kinoshita Skating Academy.

When she was a skater, Satsuki Muramoto and her younger sister Kana Muramoto were known as the "Muramoto Sisters" and loved by skating fans. She and Daisuke Takahashi trained at the same rink when they were students at Kansai University. As an older sister and a friend, I would like to ask Ms. Muramoto to tell us the story of the formation of the Muramoto/Takahashi team.

--We would like to talk about Kana Muramoto's and Daisuke Takahashi's journey from the beginning to the present day. Your sister, Kana, made the switch from singles to ice dancing in 2014. As an older sister, how did you feel about this decision at the time?

Muramoto: She had always been very good at skating and dancing in singles, so I thought she could use her strengths. I think she had some anxiety, but she seemed to enjoy the new challenge, and she was full of hope.

-Kana, has she always been interested in ice dancing?

Muramoto: She never told me that she wanted to be an ice dancer, or that she wanted to do ice dancing, but I think she was interested in it. I watched ice dance performances as a genre of figure skating. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are my generation, so I've seen them dance and I've said to them, "You're good!” I know it is difficult to change the category, but I was sure she would do well.

--Did she have any difficulties when she switched to ice dance?

Muramoto: The skates and blades were different from the single skates, so she had a hard time with that. I remember she said, "I couldn't stand up at all when I first got on the ice. She could practice at her own pace when she was in singles, but in ice dance she had a partner, so it was difficult for them to breathe with each other. Surprisingly, when it came to the lifts, I had never heard her say she was scared. It must have been difficult for her because it was the first time, but she was brave enough to try it.

--From 2015 she formed a team with Chris Reed, and her talents blossomed, competing in the World Championships in the 15-16 season and the Pyeongchang Olympics three (it’s actually two!) years later.

Muramoto: I was very happy to see Kana skating so happily and vividly. I've seen her struggling with her jumps when she was a singles skater, so to see her skating so freely and happily was very special for me. When I see her ice dancing, I am overwhelmed by her expressive power, and when I see her standing on the ice, I feel like she is a different person, and I am always impressed by her.

--Kana has a natural flamboyance, doesn’t she?

Muramoto: That's right. Japanese people have a tendency to be shy. But when Kana gets on the ice, she doesn't seem to feel that way. I think it's something she was born with. Even from a young age, my sister was more talented than me when it came to dancing.

--After the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, it was announced that she and Daisuke Takahashi would form a team in 2019. The whole world was surprised by this news, but how did you see the time leading up to the team’s formation?

Muramoto: After she left her previous team, she had a long period of time when she couldn't find a partner and she asked me if there was anyone who was interested in ice dancing. I had heard that Takahashi's steps are very good and he is very expressive, so I thought he would be good for ice dancing. So I said, "Why don't you ask him?”

--So you were the one who recommended him/suggested it?

Muramoto: Yes, I did. I had trained with Mr. Takahashi when he was still active at Kansai University and we had a good relationship, so I thought it would be a good idea.

--What was your impression of Mr. Takahashi at that time?

Muramoto: At first, I thought, "He's good! He was so good! Whenever we were practicing, I would always stop and watch him, he was such a great inspiration to me.

--Kana also trained at Kansai University when she was a singles skater, but she didn't have much contact with Takahashi, did she?

Muramoto: Yes, she did. They had different training times, so there were very few opportunities for her to train with Takahashi. I think that's why she had a strong sense of being "the skater of my dreams". To my sister, Mr. Takahashi is like a legend, so she was very hesitant at first, wondering if it would be OK for her to contact him. So I said, "Why don't you ask him? I think it's a great idea!” I gave her his contact details and encouraged her.

--What were your thoughts at that time?

Muramoto: I really wanted them to be a couple/team, that's what I thought.

--How did Kana react when Takahashi said "yes"?

Muramoto: She was very surprised. She said, "Really? Are you really going to partner me?” She couldn't believe it right away (laughs). It's amazing to see these two people team up. Kana also said that "we have good training in Florida" and that they seem to be in perfect harmony.

--What kind of chemical reaction do you think will be created when Mr. Takahashi and Kana work together?

Muramoto: “In ice dance, there is a world that only two people can show/create,” Kana often says. I would like to see a world where the two of them can make the most of each other's expressiveness and skating. I think they still have a lot to learn compared to the top teams in the world, but I hope they will do their best.

--I saw the two of them skating together on the news, and they were matching each other with great speed.

Muramoto: Mr. Takahashi skates very fast, so at first, Kana was worried about whether she could keep up with him. But when they first teamed up, she told me that they breathed well together and it was easy to skate with him. So when I heard that, I knew that they would make a good team. I was really happy.

-- What are your expectations for their future?

Muramoto: I'm sure we'll see some great performances this season, but more importantly, I'm really hoping that they'll be able to make the most of it. I'm sure there will be tension, but the first thing is for both of them to have fun.

--What do you think of the impact of the team's formation on the Japanese ice dance scene?

Muramoto: I think it's great that Daisuke Takahashi, who has led Japanese figure skating as a singles skater for so long, has switched to ice dancing, and that this has brought attention to Japanese ice dancing. I think it's great that the Japanese ice dance scene is getting more and more attention, and I hope that this will inspire the singles and pairs skaters to improve.

--After Kana and Takahashi formed the team, was there any communication between you (Satsuki) and Takahashi?

Muramoto: We met once before they left for America. Normally, I would have said to Dai-chan, "Take care of Kana," but since Kana is more independent, I said, "Take care of Kana and Dai-chan" (laughs).

--Thank you very much. Finally, please give some words of encouragement to Kana and Takahashi.

Muramoto: First of all, I want you both to enjoy yourselves and show everyone your world view. And I'm looking forward to them!

And here is Marina's interview (there are overlaps with the interview published in November on NBC Sports, but there's also some new information, such as Dai's contributions to the "The Mask" choreo):

Coach and Choreographer interview – Marina Zueva

Daisuke is “Zeus”

Marina Zueva, who is based in Florida, USA, teaches the team of Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi. As a coach and a choreographer, how will she help the couple/team to improve? The world has been paying attention to her skill in raising many top ice dance teams.

Profile: Born in 1956 in the former Soviet Union. As an ice dance coach and choreographer, she has trained many top ice dance teams, including the world-famous Meryl Davis/Charlie White and Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir teams. She is also a trusted advisor to singles skaters and has choreographed for Japanese skaters such as Yukari Nakano and Takahiko Kozuka. Since this season, she has been coaching the team of Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi.

--What was your first impression when you heard that you were going to be working with Daisuke Takahashi?

Marina: First of all, the most important thing/story is that the team is based on Daisuke. Kana is his partner, but Daisuke is the one converting to ice dance. When they first walked in, I was transfixed by Daisuke. The way he looked at people, the way he smiled and his richness of expression was so unusual. I think it's great that he can express himself with facial expressions. When I saw him looking at Kana and Kana looking back at Daisuke, I knew that they were already a duet/team. It is difficult for a boy and girl to convey their emotions (to each other) through facial expressions, but the way Daisuke looked at his partner, the way he expressed his feelings, made them both look like that (a couple/team) instantly.

--What was the first step in forming the team?

Marina: When I first saw Kana and Daisuke together, the first thing I thought about was how to bring out the best in Daisuke. The transition to ice dancing is not an easy one. I knew a lot about Kana from our four years together, but this was my first time working with Daisuke. Of course, as a singles skater, I knew that he was a wonderful, beautiful, and extremely versatile skater with a lot of potential. He is very emotional and his skating technique is excellent. Edge control and twizzles are also first rate, not to mention his body language and expressiveness. He has a natural speed and fluidity. I gave him a name: Zeus. Zeus, the ancient Greek god of the sky. His skating is unbelievable. I thought he was the best ice dancer I've ever had. It was the first time I had seen him skate up close and I knew they were going to be a great couple/team. They are very uniqe and not like any other team.

-What does this challenge mean for the former players?

Marina: When I found out that Kana's new partner was Daisuke, I thought it was a dream come true. I couldn't have asked for a more ideal partner for ice dancing. He has all the right ingredients. As I said, his skating technique, his dramatic expression, his ability to express the music, that is a natural talent. And then there is the fluidity of the performance. The list goes on and on. And Kana, when she skates with Daisuke, is able to express herself better. There is a sense of chemistry between the two of them. And her beauty is blossoming, like a flower blooming. I think you'll soon notice. It's difficult to explain in words, but it's a true chemistry. They complement each other very well. What one doesn’t have, the other makes up for, and vice versa. That's what I was conscious of in the choreography. It feels like a dialogue in which Kana accepts what Daisuke expresses, and then Kana reacts to it. Two as one.

--You started full-scale training in the USA in January, were you already in a position to start?

Marina: No, not really. I think not. Daisuke had to compete in Nationals singles competitions and ice shows, so I don't think he skated much. They did skate some numbers together in the shows, but they were just for show, not for real practice. What was interesting was that Daisuke came to me and said "I didn't know ice dancing was so hard until I tried it! It's really hard! When he skated with Kana, he probably only skated hand-in-hand around the rink, but now that he has started training, he realises how hard it is. I was surprised that Daisuke was able to stay on the ice for so long. In general, an ice dancer trains on the ice for more than twice as long as a singles skater. A singles skater trains about 3 hours a day, while an ice dancer trains about 5-6 hours a day. But Daisuke never lost his motivation and concentration, he kept on practicing for a long time. This was because he had realised how difficult ice dancing is. And indeed, it is one, and it has not been a monotonous journey.

--When you started, what did you find difficult?

Marina: First of all, due to the pandemic, we did not have a long time to work together. When the rink closed in April, Kana and Daisuke went back to Japan for a while to continue training (with me) online. We even choreographed some parts online! It was a bit of a surprise that it could be done this way (laughs). But it went really well. The beginning and ending weren't solid, so I completed it remotely, and they came here in June and trained here for about half a year until November.

--It is difficult to have a critical year under a pandemic. When you should have been able to train with a coach or a choreographer.

Marina: Yes, but you have to accept the situation and adapt to it and make the best of it. But they are both very positive. They are always smiling and laughing, and if they make a mistake, they can just correct it, they never get frustrated.

--How did the lifts go? Takahashi has never skated with a partner before, so it must have been very difficult.

Marina: That was a challenge for us too. The skating part was fine, but the lifts were a problem. The other parts came naturally to him, but he said "Only the lifts are a problem." Of course, he had never done it before.

The highly experienced Johnny Johns was in charge. He has worked with Olympic champions Meryl Davies and Charlie White, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and also with Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, Maia and Alex Shibutani. Based on his extensive experience, he has chosen the most suitable lifts for both of them. We only have two lifts in the La Bayadere programme, I think the next step for Kana and Daisuke will be to develop their creativity in the lifts.

--How do you teach online?

Marina: It was easy to work with them because they understood everything straight away, it was like working face to face. We filmed them on the rink and Johnny practiced the lifts online using FaceTime! It was a bit difficult because of the 14-hour time difference between Japan and Florida. That was a bit of a challenge, because we were up at 3.30-4.00am in the morning to fit in with their training times! They only had a limited amount of time to use the rink. Johnny's lessons started at around 9pm here and were split into a morning and evening session. However, the important thing was that they were able to practice on the rink, so I tried my best to get up early. But I think it went well. When we met again in June, we saw how far they had come.

--When you saw them again in June, how did you feel about their progress?

Marina: They were able to understand each other better. The body line was also beautiful. They skated two times a day, so the results were pretty good. They also did a lot of modern dance training off ice. Above all, the skating was getting stronger and better. The more you skate and the more you practice, the more growth you will see. Under the circumstances, we did as much as we could. The choreography of the RD was completed at the end of September and although it has only been in existence for a short time, we think you will be impressed by what you see. As I said to them, we can focus on improving the performance in the future. I told them, if they continue to improve, they can aim for the podium. Of course, we need more time. It is still a difficult season. This is the year of patience, perseverance and practice.

--I heard that Takahashi is also working on a physical transformation.

Marina: Now is the time for Daisuke to learn how to manipulate the other person's body, and how to use his own body and hands. When he first came to me, he was very slim, with a firm lower body but a very thin upper body (laughs). But then he started to work out. He said, "Marina, I've never worked out my upper body before in my life!” He says he used to only train his lower body and core, but this has completely changed. The muscles around his shoulders have grown stronger, his weight has remained lean and he has the ideal inverted triangle shape now. You can see it when you look at his back. In addition, his face has become firmer. His skin has become so smooth and firm. I couldn't help but ask him if he had had Botox injections. (laughs) Daisuke said, "No, I haven't! I just ate a lot!” (laughs). Kana was also physically trained, and they were always doing their excercises.

--Tell us about the programs. What did you have in mind when choosing the songs?

Marina: I thought it would be good to do rhythm and free dances of very different styles to bring out the different talents that they have. The rhythm dance is more difficult because it has a more rhythmic feel. For this reason, we started with the free dance. I want to show you the many faces of this couple: they can be purely classical and they can dance. In this way, we will be able to show their full potential.

--The free dance is "La Bayadère".

Marina: I thought that ballet would be good for the Free. I have a master's degree in ballet from the Moscow State University of Arts, so I know a lot about ballet music. For the free dance, I thought it would be better to have a ballet piece that was a bit more exotic than a purely classical piece. So we chose "La Bayadère". For the last few years, the mainstream of ice-dance has been modern. The French couple established a great style and spearheaded the tide, followed by ice dancers all over the world. Many of them are now doing a modern style in their free dances. So I dare to say that Kana and Daisuke have a different way of doing it. So I thought it would be interesting for them to have a different style. I played the song to them and they loved it. The ballet is very rhythmic, with waltz and adagio parts, allegro parts and a lot of development. There is also a solo part for the instrumentalists. They are both very musical and have a great ability to express the world of the music. They can skate in any style. This is the reason why “La Bayadère” has been chosen by (for?) them. I thought " La Bayadère" was a great number for them.

--How did you tackle the rhythm dance?

Marina: The rhythm dance is almost all footwork, from beginning to end. Massimo also said that "the greatest challenge for me was footwork", and footwork is as difficult as lifting, because the two of them are in such close position. In order to do this, it is better if you spend more time together and get to know each other's characteristics. If you are still a beginner, you will not be ready. Therefore, before choreographing the rhythm dance, they needed to skate together to understand each other's feelings, to familiarise themselves with each other's skills and positions and get a good feel for each other. We did that first, and when we thought they were ready, we started the choreography.

--The choreography was done by Marina. How did you choose the music?

Marina: The song "The Mask" for the Rhythm Dance was Kana’s and Daisuke’s choice. The theme is "Let's have fun and dance with joy! It is a very white (light?) and fun programme. How can we feel the music in our body and dance? There will be a lot of comical moments in the scenes where the couple will be dancing happily. It's a programme that will make you swoon from start to finish. It's a very exciting programme. My young coach, Ilya Tkachenko, is also involved in the choreography of the programme. It was a lot of fun to work with them. Especially Daisuke, who really understands everything instantly. Believe it or not, Daisuke also came up with his own suggestions for the choreography. It was amazing. So it was a lot of fun.

--When you were choreographing the programs, Takahashi also gave you some ideas.

Marina: Yes, that's right. I always said, "Thank you Daisuke! (laughs). I have always enjoyed working with skaters to come up with ideas for choreography. Partly because I want to see what they come up with, but also because I want them to fall in love with their own program. What I do is not to provide choreography for the sketches. (?) It's about bringing out the best in each couple. It's about what's best for them and at the same time bringing out the best in them. The idea is to create something that makes them look as beautiful as they are (can?). To do this, we chose special songs and movements/shapes that make them look their best. For example, I want to make sure that the proportions are the most flattering. If you watch the free dance, you will know what I mean just by looking at the beginning. Therefore these programs are for these two only, not for any other couple.

--What do you look forward to/expect from the first competition?

Marina: It's the first official competition and it's a Grand Prix series, so I think it's nice to be able to skate in front of your own fans. I'm sure the warm atmosphere will help their performance. Competition is the best training. I think that this unusual challenge has a high degree of attention, so it seems that there will be a lot of media coverage, but since they are (professionals?), it is part of the job to deal with such things. is. It is their mission to do the best performance with that power. Of course, I think it's a difficult task to put together all the elements in the first competition, but if you look at the completeness of each part, it is going to indicate how much potential this couple has. My expectation for the first competition is for them to perform in such a way that people will like them. I hope that they will make people fall in love with them, the judges and the audience. That's how they will be recognised by the ice dance world as a team. And I want them to skate with a lot of love (for skating) and a lot of affluence: if they didn't love skating, Daisuke wouldn't have been able to come back to competition in this way. He loves skating, whether it is singles or ice dancing, he really enjoys it. So I want them both to feel the full force of their love for skating. To move together, feel the music and express themselves to the audience. It would be great if they can do that in their first competition.

-So you think it is important to take part in ice dance competitions primarily to gain experience?

Marina: Yes, of course. This season is the year of experience. It is about learning how to compete. It's one thing to train together, it's quite another to perform together in a competition. The stress and the atmosphere are different and you have to be able to cope with it. It's natural to have one at a competition. (?) You have to cope with that and build on the experience. It is an experience that you need for the future.

--In this respect, wasn't it a pleasant surprise to see how quickly Takahashi was able to adapt?

Marina: Daisuke is a legend. He is my favourite skater of all time. (Did she really say that?) Even in the singles, he had a natural flow and speed. His footwork is very light. His skating ability is amazing. Especially the usage of the knees. His knee bend and body balance are excellent. He is able to do such a wide range of movement because of his excellent body balance.

--Have you ever been involved with Takahashi in any way (before)?

Marina: I like Daisuke's single free program very much, so of course I was interested in him as a skater. I was also involved in the men's competition. My brother, Andre, also skated in the men's singles, so I was usually there for the meetings. (?) Daisuke was in the middle of the competition in men’s singles, where Japanese boys were fighting for the Olympic podium. But he was exceptional in his expression. His jumps were so dynamic that it was as if he was flying over the rink. His performance was always dramatic, and his hair style was always beautiful. He has a unique presence in the world of figure skating, he is like no one else. He's a skater I've been watching for a long time. He's so unique, so different. He is a Japanese diamond. So now I feel like I have a diamond in my hands. You have to take care of it very carefully (laughs). All joking aside, I feel very privileged as a coach. To be in charge of such talented teams. I feel a sense of duty to make them the best they can be.

--Do you see the Beijing Olympics as a future goal?

Marina: Of course. We have that goal. First of all, we need to meet the requirements to participate in the Games in China, but there is still time. If everything goes well, and they continue to train as well as I think they can, and if they continue to develop in this way, they will have a good shot at the podium at the Olympics. They can do it. They still have more than a year to go, but we don't know if the pandemic will be over. The competition may be postponed, but the more time they have, the better for them. I am convinced that the potential is there. As I said before, Daisuke already has the skating skills and he is getting better and better with Kana. By skating with Daisuke, she is able to express herself much better than before. It's like she's moving up to another level. She was also an excellent singles skater. Her skating skill was great and her coordination was good. Her coordination of the triple jump was also very strong. They are both good skaters and I think they could be the best team in the world if they had the time.

--It's great to know that you can grow with the people you work with.

Marina: I think it's great for both of us. And I think they are setting a great example in this world. Just because you can't jump as much as you used to, it doesn't mean you have to end your career. There are still ways to continue skating, such as ice dancing or artistic dancing. It's a shame to quit when you have the ability to skate and the talent to express yourself. Because the basic skill is the same as that of figure skating. If a skater has a high level of skating skills, he or she can go to another category, he/she can still be a high-level skater if he/she obtains the other qualities that are needed there. The best is the best. (?) For example, if you want to change to ice dance, expressiveness is a must. And there must be chemistry between you and your partner. If you have this, there is no reason why you can't aim for the top. You already have the essential skating skills. All you have to do is skate with them and hone your skills. It's all about experience and a willingness to learn.

--Marina, you yourself seem to enjoy working with them a lot.

Marina: Yes, every morning is a pleasure. Every day with them is a celebration for me. There's a lot of work to do, but it's always a pleasure to go to training. The joy is to see the progress. There is always a step forward every day, even if it is a small one. The opposite is not true. There is nothing more fulfilling for a coach than that.

--Thank you very much. Any last words of encouragement for Kana and Daisuke?

Marina: I want them to enjoy the atmosphere of the competition, feel happy to be there and perform and I want them to go into the competition with the love of figure skating in their hearts.

--Do you have a message for the fans?

Marina: Enjoy their skating. Love them and support them. And engage with their performances. Please feel that you are part of their creativity. There will be moments when the audience will simply gasp and be absorbed by the performance, by the sheer movement. It is a very special moment for the audience when they feel that they are part of a skater’s performance. Hopefully, they will be able to give the audience a moment where they too can participate in their performance and creativity and make them and the audience feel a sense of unison. I am sure that Kana and Daisuke will be able to create such moments! I'm looking forward to it!

Utako Nagamitsu:

Special guest – Utako Nagamitsu

Words from the (former) coach

Coach Utako Nagamitsu has been supporting Daisuke Takahashi since he was 13 years old and has supported him for the last 20 years. What did his mentor, who has seen him through many glories and setbacks, think of her beloved pupil's start in ice dancing? She also shared her thoughts on the debut of Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi at the NHK Trophy, and her hopes for their future.

--Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us today. We would like to talk to you about Daisuke Takahashi, who made his ice dancing debut at the NHK Trophy. Please tell us what you thought of his performance.

Nagamitsu: Daisuke started his ice dance training in earnest at the beginning of this year, and only finished his competition program in September. I was worried about their skating, but when I saw them perform at the NHK Trophy, I was amazed at how they managed to put it together in such a short time, just two months after they completed it. Even though they share the same point of skating on the ice, the nature of the ice dance is completely different from the singles, where you skate freely on your own, to the ice dance, where you skate with a partner. There is still a lot to work on, but I was really impressed with the focus of both of them to get to the point where they could perform as one.

--You have been at Mr. Takahashi's rink side for 20 years, how did you feel when you watched him perform the ice dance?

Nagamitsu: I was in the officials' section both days, and the judges and coaches around me said, "You look like his mother" (laughs). In the singles, I had a pretty good idea of how it would turn out, but this time I was really on the edge of my seat and everyone made fun of me.

--Were you relieved when it was all over?

Nagamitsu: I was really relieved when it was over, because even though they made some mistakes with the twizzles, the whole performance was great.

--What was it like for you to see him skate on the rink as an ice dancer?

Nagamitsu: I felt that he was a little nervous during the Rhythm Dance, but during the Free Dance, I was relieved to see that his face was full of expression and he looked like an ice dancer. I could feel that he wanted to create a piece with his partner. When you set a goal so high that you think, "Isn't that what I want?” (?) It's the sparkle in his eyes that makes all the difference, and he still has that tight face, so as someone who knows him well, it's great to see that face again.

--What was your impression of the program?

Nagamitsu: Both programs were very nice and I have watched them many times on repeat after the NHK Trophy. There were some of Daisuke's programs that I particularly liked in singles, and I often watched them over and over again, but this free dance had a certain charm that made me want to watch it again and again. I was impressed by the softness of their ankles and knees, and the touch of the skates, as if they were touching fine silk or velvet. I am sure that Daisuke's potential will only increase if he is able to take the lead from Kana, as they already skate so harmoniously together.

--The teamwork between the two of them seems to be good.

Nagamitsu: I had the opportunity to meet Daisuke the other day and he told me that Kana-chan was very patient with him as a beginner and taught him what he needed to know. It would be rude to describe a girl as masculine, but I think it is because of her generosity that they have been able to develop such a good team spirit.

-How do you feel about the fact that they were able to perform so well together after less than 10 months of practice?

Nagamitsu: From the moment they started working together I knew that they would be able to do the side-by-side steps very well. But the lifts and spins, when they were practicing back in Japan, I saw them briefly and thought, "This is really hard". When I saw the other teams practicing, I thought, "They'll never be able to do these lifts and spins", and I felt again that they were attempting something really difficult.

--I think it will be a great inspiration for other skaters to see a skater who was a world champion in singles skating, learning new skills one by one as an ice dancer.

Nagamitsu: I think that seeing a skater who has been known as a good skater, struggling and growing, will make people respect him more than ever. I think it's also great to show them that there are new possibilities for a second career or next stage.

--One of his achievements is to bring the couples' sport into the limelight.

Nagamitsu: First of all, I was surprised by the amount of press coverage. I was also very happy. Up until now, the spotlight has always been on the singles, so I was happy to see that. I think it's great that people who weren't so interested in ice dance have heard the news about the two of them.

--In the free dance, Muramoto and him performed a story together. How do you feel about trying to express himself in a different way from his singles days?

Nagamitsu: Daisuke has a different glow when he skates by himself, and there is a gorgeous atmosphere when Kana is skating beside him, which I think is the charm of competing as a couple. He was able to broaden his range of skating, and it was refreshing to discover new expressions that I hadn't seen before.

--What do you expect from their performance at the All-Japan Championships?

Nagamitsu: I'm looking forward to watching them again, with excitement (laughs). I'm happy that I can enjoy watching ice dance so much, and I hope they will enjoy it too.

--As a mentor and Takahashi's biggest fan, what are your hopes and expectations for the two of them in the future?

Nagamitsu: The other day I had the opportunity to talk to Oleg Epstein, who was working with them at the NHK Trophy. I had met Marina Zueva and Oleg before, but we hadn't talked much, but this time I got to know Oleg's personality and I could see how much Daisuke and his team trust him and I know that I can trust the coaching staff in Florida. He is looking forward to working with Daisuke and Kana to help them both achieve their goals.

-Thank you very much for your time. Lastly, please give some words of encouragement to Ms Muramoto and Mr Takahashi.

Nagamitsu: I hope that you two will show us your colourful paintings, a combination of two worlds that we have never seen before!

And finally Kana and Dai:

Special interview – Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi

A new wind for the world

Daisuke Takahashi's ice dance challenge - a shock to the world of figure skating. It was a decision made in response to an offer from Kana Muramoto, who had also experienced the Pyeongchang Olympics. They made their official debut at the NHK Trophy, with the world's eyes on them. We asked them to reflect on their journey so far.

--How do you feel about competing at the NHK Trophy, only 10 months after you officially formed as a team in January?

Kana: We have only been practicing for about 7-8 months because of Corona's influence, but I am very happy that the NHK Cup was held in Japan, as there were less and less Grand Prixs around the world, and it was a great opportunity to show our performance in front of the Japanese audience for the first time.

I think it was great that we were able to perform in the competition after not being able to practice as much as we would have liked due to Corona.

Daisuke: As Kana said, it was a great experience to be able to perform in front of an audience, and I felt "how lucky I am". There are some skaters who can't skate even if they want to, so I wanted to do my best for them.

--I think the Japanese skating fans were looking forward to your performance. How did you feel about the atmosphere in the hall, the warm welcome from the audience?

Daisuke: It was our first competition, so I think people were looking forward to seeing what we could do, but I felt that the audience was really warm and welcoming. The fans were not able to cheer (to prevent infection). The power of support was shown to us by everyone, and it really helped our performance.

--How do you feel about the current situation of ice dance in Japan?

Kana: I feel that ice dance is getting much attention because of you, or rather because of your change of career. I would like to thank you.

Daisuke: Haha (laughs).

Kana: Also, it's a unique thing in the world of single skating, that a world champion single skater has switched to ice dance, it's never happened before. The fact that this switch to ice dancing is something that has never happened before has definitely given new options and hope. It's not just ice dancing, it's a whole new world of skating.

Daisuke: I have always liked ice dancing, I have always thought it was really interesting to watch and I have always been very interested in ice dancing itself, so I wanted to give it a go. I hope that people who have never watched ice dancing before will start to watch ice dancing, and that the circle will grow wider and wider. I hope that this Cup will be a good opportunity for them to learn more about ice dancing. I would be very happy if there are people who were willing to do that.

Kana: That's right.

Daisuke: There are so many wonderful skaters (?) around the world who are still unknown, and I hope that this will be an opportunity for people to see more of them and for the circle of ice dance to grow.

--I think it has been a lot of work just to learn the specific skills of ice dance in the last 10 months.

Daisuke: It is difficult to learn, but I’m still working on it.

Kana: Hmmm. (laughs)

Daisuke: We have been working on a few things that we haven't been able to get right yet, and we're just about ready to start performing. The reality is that we still have a lot of work to do.

Kana: Seriously, single and ice dance are so different technically that it's like another world. It's not easy to learn a new skill, but we have done it. I think it's great that we were able to put it all together in the Cup without any major mistakes. We still have to work on the hoop position (?) and the distance between us. But I think it is because of your skill that you have been able to do so much in such a short time.

--What was the most difficult part of the new technique?

Daisuke: All of them (laughs)!

Kana: Hmmm. (laughs)

Daisuke: Especially the spins and lifts. I don't think I have reached the point where I can do it yet, so we need to concentrate on practising and we have a lot of work to do in other areas too.

--How did you cope with the fact that the Finnstep was a continuation of last season's Pattern Dance, which was a disadvantage for the two of you as a new team?

Kana: On the other hand, we were able to do some research on what other couples were using and how they were organising their songs. It's a great way to get to know each other. I have learnt a lot from watching the different performances. It is true that other teams follow a rhythm dance programme. We knew that we had to do what we could, so we didn't think that we were at a disadvantage.

Daisuke: When I first started out, I thought "I don't know what it's like".

Kana: Haha. (laughs)

Daisuke: I think it was the fact that it was so difficult that made us work so hard. But I had heard that even if you don't have the ability to pattern dance, you can still do the Finnstep, so I felt a kind of fighting spirit: "If I can do this, it will give me confidence". I thought, "If I can do this, I'll have internal confidence. (laughs).

Kana: Haha. (laughs)

--So it was because it was a difficult task that you were able to do it?

Daisuke: Yes. I was told by Marina Zueva, "If you do this, it will make the rest of the dance a bit easier. But it is all difficult.

Kana: For the Rhythm Dance, the song choice was "The Mask", but coach Marina had told us that it was a fast tempo song, so it would be difficult, so we thought "We'll definitely be able to do it! We're still working hard on it.”

--I'll do it! When you were a singls skater, you often expressed the music itself rather than the story of the program, but in ice dance, you and your partner are performing a whole story together. How do you feel about the difference?

Daisuke: The biggest difference is that in Singles, we were directing our expression to the audience, but in Ice Dance, the two of us are telling the audience through Kana. The way we show the scenery, the way we express our feelings, I think there's a subtlety to it, and I think it's more complex than a singles program. I think we are still at the stage where we are exploring how to express our world.

Kana: The way you present ice dance is more delicate than singles, for example, it is important to be aware of where your eyes are, from the tip of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. It's also about how much emotion you can put into your expression and how much you can convey to people through it.

Daisuke: I think there are certain things that only the two of us can do together, and that gives us a lot of versatility. But if we don't have the same feelings, it can be difficult to convey what we want to express, and it can be difficult if you’re shy, but when we work together, we have more power to communicate, and it's fun to be able to express ourselves in different ways. It's a very special experience.

--When I see you two acting, I feel that you have good teamwork and positive attitude. What do you think about the partnership?

Daisuke: We are now working on our own routine.

Kana: Yes, we are. We have just finished one competition and we are starting to understand how to prepare for a match and how to practice before a match. But I feel that we have a good balance in our training.

Daisuke: For me, it's the first time I've had a partner, so it's a bit of a new feeling, but I think we both have the same attitude towards what we want to express.

Kana: Yes, yes.

Daisuke: I feel that we have a good relationship.

--The day before the NHK Trophy was the same day that Takahashi had his knee operation 12 years ago.

Daisuke: Wow.

Kana: I see.

--From there, he competed in the Vancouver Olympics and the Sochi Olympics, retired, worked in the media and on the stage, and then returned to the sport. You have left behind a trail of achievements that no one else can replicate. Looking back over the years, do you have any thoughts?

Daisuke: I've done a lot of things (laughs).

Kana: Haha (laughs).

Daisuke: Even if someone had told me in some way that I would be an ice dancer in 12 years time, I would never have believed it. But I think it's a good thing that I'm still skating 12 years later, and I'm still here because of all the experiences I've had. But I think if I had done this ice dance a little longer, it would have been better for me physically, but I think it was because of this timing that I was able to do it.

--Do you think it was good that Muramoto invited you to ice dance?

Daisuke: Yes, it was.

Kana: Hmmm (laughs).

Daisuke: Kana had always been an attractive athlete in singles, but since her move to ice dancing, she has become even more so. I thought she had a great performance, and I wondered if she would be okay with me. (laughs). (laughs) I still think that, but I'm really glad that I got the job. If it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't have decided to do ice dancing, and I think that's why I decided to do it, because I felt that I could do something wonderful.

--Muramoto, it must have taken a lot of courage for you to make contact with Takahashi for the first time, but do you think it was a good idea?

Kana: Yes (laughs)! At first, I wondered if I should ask him, because he was skating in singles, but then I thought, "Anyway let’s talk to him.” Looking back on it now, I'm really glad that I asked him. I was thinking of retiring, so I'm very happy to be back as an ice dancer with you.

--The All-Japan Championships are coming up soon. What are your thoughts on the competition?

Daisuke: I was very nervous at the NHK Trophy because it was my first time to perform, but now that I have competed in a competition, I don't want to lose.

Kana: Hmmm (laughs).

Daisuke: In the short time we have, I want to correct what I can, polish the programs, and give a performance that both of us can be proud of.

Kana: After the NHK Trophy, we have a clear idea of what we have not achieved and what we need to improve on. I also hope to be able to present a more polished programme.

--Thank you very much. Finally, I would like to ask you to give a message to your fans.

Daisuke: At the NHK Trophy, there were still some parts where I didn't show my full potential, so I hope that at All Japan I will be able to free myself up and skate a great programme in front of you.

Kana: Now that I've made it to the starting line, I hope that you will be kind enough to watch my journey as an athlete. We hope that we will be able to give you all the hope and energy that you need, and we look forward to your support.
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On the Ice
Jan 5, 2008
"Super cool X-mas card by Mika Matsuda (can you spot Kana and Dai?)":

That is a wonderful Christmas Card and shows a tremendous amount of work. I don't really have a good memory for faces but many look familiar. Is Dai almost alone in front of the tree with Kana to his left (our right as we look at the picture). I can recognize Piper and Paul down in the lower right hand corner. Thanks for link, synesthesia.