Takahashi makes history with figure skating bronze

Compiled From Kyodo, AP

Daisuke Takahashi overcame a fall on his opening quadruple jump with a solid free skate to claim the men’s figure skating bronze medal at the Vancouver Olympics on Thursday.

Takahashi, who was third after Tuesday’s short program, scored a total of 247.23 points to give Japan its third medal of the Games and first ever for the men in the event.

“My ranking in the free program (fifth) was lower than I expected so I am not satisfied about that but I am pleased to get a medal all the same,” said Takahashi.

“I put the quad in because I was aiming for the gold medal. My goal at the Olympics was to put the quad in my program and skate a perfect routine.”

American Evan Lysacek came from behind to win the gold, while 2006 Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko of Russia took the silver.

Lysacek was second after the short program.

Nobunari Oda (238.54) was seventh and compatriot Takahiko Kozuka (231.19) was eighth.

The medal win put the gloss on the 23-year-old Takahashi’s comeback season after he was sidelined for the entire 2008-09 campaign due to major surgery on his right knee.

“I lost a year because of my injury. When I was injured I never thought I would be standing on this stage, so I am glad I have made it this far. I am proud to have become the first Japanese man to win an Olympic figure skating medal,” Takahashi said.

Oda started the day in fourth place but fell on a triple loop and was forced to leave the rink during his program when the laces on his right skate snapped, the interruption leading to a two-point deduction.

“The shock has left me lost for words,” said Oda. “I thought I would be able to keep going until the end but all of the laces came undone.

“I will leave this event with regrets. I didn’t have the ability to try a quad and that is my responsibility,” he said.

Kozuka fell on a triple axel but skated an otherwise clean program that began with a quadruple toe loop and earned him a personal best score.