Takahashi dazzles as Japan increases lead at World Team Trophy

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Powered by another stellar performance by Daisuke Takahashi, Japan opened up an eight-point lead over the United States on the second day of the World Team Trophy on Friday.

A night after establishing a world record in his short program, Takahashi wowed the crowd at Yoyogi Gymnasium again with a nearly flawless free skate. He won the men’s singles event with a total score of 276.72, in the process handing two-time defending world champion Patrick Chan of Canada his first loss since the 2010 Cup of Russia. Japan has 59 points to top the pack in the three-day, team competition between six nations. The U.S. is second with 51, while France is third with 44.

The 2010 world champion, skating to “Blues for Klook,” landed his opening quadruple toe loop and then rattled off jump after jump on the way to victory. In addition to the quad, he hit eight triple jumps (under-rotating one triple toe loop) as he racked up a season-best score of 182.72 for the free skate.

“It was my last performance of the season and I put everything into it,” said Takahashi. “It was great to help my team. Beating Patrick will give me a lot of confidence for next season.”

The 2010 Olympic bronze medalist said his goal was to avoid a meltdown.

“I was just trying to avoid any major mistakes and enjoy myself,” he stated.

Chan, performing to “Adagio,” was second with a mark of 260.46. After landing his opening quad toe loop/triple toe loop combination, Chan hit the ice when he attempted his second quad toe loop, but skated strongly the rest of the way. But on this night, it was just not enough.

“You win some and you lose some,” said Chan. “It was a great season for me. I had a lot of success.”

Chan, who had won all six previous events he entered this campaign, had nothing but praise for his rival.

“This is a great result for Daisuke,” he said. “He was under more pressure here than anyone else. He is a great athlete and proved that tonight.”

France’s Brian Joubert was third with 239.64.

Takahiko Kozuka (225.30) struggled again in his free skate and finished in fifth. Kozuka, skating to “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” fell on his opening quad toe loop and botched three of his combination jumps in an uneven effort.

It is clear that Kozuka is going to have to go back to the drawing board in the offseason if he wants to be a factor in the buildup to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. won the ice dance with a tally of 183.36. The 2011 world champions defeated Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, this year’s world titlists, by more than five points. Davis and White, the four-time defending U.S. champions, skated passionately to “Die Fledermaus” and were given a standing ovation at the end of their program.

France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (167.83) finished third.

World bronze medalists Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran lead the pairs with 64.92 after the short program. The duo skated to “Imagine” and retained the momentum from their surprise showing in Nice, France, last month.

Russia’s Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov (62.02) are in second, while Italy’s Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek (59.28) stand in third.

The competition wraps up on Saturday with the women’s and pairs free skates. The exhibition gala is set for Sunday.