VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Daisuke Takahashi thrust himself into medal contention on Tuesday after a spellbinding performance at the Winter Games in Vancouver clinched third place in the men’s figure skating short program.
Looking to put the gloss on his comeback season having missed the entire 2008-09 campaign due to major surgery on his right knee, Takahashi produced a flawless skate en route to a personal-best score of 90.25 points.
Takahashi is just 0.60behind leader and defending Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko, while a mere0.05 separates him and second-placed American Evan Lysacek.
Nobunari Oda also enjoyed an error-free skate and was in fourth place with 84.85, while Takahiko Kozuka, Japan’s other representative in the men’s program, placed eighth with 79.59.
Skating to “Eye” by Coba, Takahashi opened with a triple flip-triple toe loop combination to thunderous applause at Pacific Coliseum before cleanly executing a triple axel and a triple lutz.
The 23-year-old also received high points for his steps and spins in an exquisite skate, keeping Russian Plushenko and world champion Lysacek on their toes ahead of Thursday’s free skate.
“It wasn’t my best but that was my top performance this season. I was able to stay calm,” said Takahashi.
“Now I have got to put everything I have been working on into the free program. My form is improving and I am going to put in a quad,” added Takahashi, who is aiming to improve on an eighth-place finish at the Turin Games.
Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland was in fifth place with 84.63 followed by American Johnny Weir (82.10).