SAPPORO – Daisuke Takahashi coasted to victory in the men’s competition to complete a golden double for Japan on Sunday at the NHK Trophy, the fourth stop on the six-event Grand Prix circuit.
Holding a lead of over 10 points after Saturday’s short program, the 2010 world champion and Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist fell on his opening quad after landing it in the warm-up, but was clean the rest of the way, successfully defending the NHK title with 259.75 points.
“Last year (in Nagoya) I wondered whether I really deserved to win this event but this time, even though I wasn’t perfect, I feel I have won it after taking steps forward,” said Takahashi.
Compatriot Takahiko Kozuka came second with 235.02 and was followed by American Ross Miner, who moved up from sixth in the short program to place third with 212.36. Japan’s Tatsuki Machida finished in seventh place with 195.45.
Takahashi’s victory came a day after Akiko Suzuki held off former world champion Mao Asada in another 1-2 finish for Japanese skaters in the women’s event at Makomanai Ice Arena in Sapporo.
“I had some of my jumps downgraded but overall I think my performance improved compared to my last event,” said Takahashi, referring to his third-place finish at Skate Canada last month.
“I landed the quad flip for the first time in my life in the six-minute warm-up and that is also the first time I have pumped my fists in a warm-up,” he joked.
“I don’t think the quad was that bad but maybe I was just a bit too eager to land it. But I am so glad I could land it (in the warm-up) for the first time here in Sapporo.”
World silver medalist Kozuka two-footed his opening quad but still posted his best free skate score of the season to improve on third place at Skate America.
“I was watching Takahashi-san’s performance from behind the scenes and it made me realize how far I still have to go,” said Kozuka. “I couldn’t get the timing right (for the quad) and made some other mistakes that prevented me from accumulating points, so I was a bit disappointed about that.”
On Saturday, Yuko Kawaguchi and Russian partner Alexander Smirnov came from behind to win the pairs with 177.51 points, while Japanese-Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 151.85.