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Murakami aiming for spot on Olympic team

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Earlier this month veteran skater Daisuke Murakami competed in and won the club competition at the Philadelphia Summer International in Aston, Pennsylvania. That was good news for the 26-year-old Murakami, who missed nearly all of last season with a broken right foot.

Murakami, who is coached by the legendary Frank Carroll (who led Michelle Kwan to four world titles) and based in Los Angeles, is a dark horse for the third spot on Japan’s Olympic team for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games behind Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno.

“I definitely feel I am a contender for the Japanese team as the third spot, along with Takahito Mura and Keiji Tanaka,” Murakami was quoted as saying by Ice Network’s Lynn Rutherford. “I am listening to everything Frank Carroll says, because he is the most experienced coach in the skating world. I feel like I’ve paced myself well for a strong season.”

Rutherford reported that Murakami cleanly landed quad salchows in both his short program and free skate and the Kanagawa native is intent on adding more quads to his repetoire.

“There are a lot of improvements that can be done, hopefully by next month when I compete at the (Skate Canada) Autumn Classic,” Murakami commented to Ice Network. “We’ve been working on four quads: salchow, toe loop, flip and lutz. They are about equal in practice, minus the salchow. Out of the three, the quad lutz is the most consistent, so I’m hoping to put either quad lutz or quad flip in the program for Canada.”

In a 2013 interview with the Skate Guard blog, Murakami discussed his work with Carroll.

“He has helped me realize that I need to be running programs every single day from start to finish and won’t tolerate stopping no matter what you are doing in a run-through practice, which also has helped my mental mind to become stronger,” Murakami stated.

Earlier in his career, Murakami was coached by Nikolai Morozov. Murakami also credited the renowned Russian coach for helping his development.

“Nikolai Morozov was the first to put me on the senior circuit internationally and he provided the most intense training regimen — not only jumps but steps and spins that I was never able to do as a junior,” Murakami told Skate Guard. “He helped me utilize my whole body to skate more freely with my arms and legs, which I was never able to do.”

Though the odds would seem long for Murakami, whose lone Grand Prix assignment this season is the NHK Trophy, to make the Olympic team, he has pulled off a major surprise before.

Murakami, who made the Grand Prix Final in 2015, came out of nowhere to defeat Hanyu at the 2014 NHK Trophy in Osaka.

Hanyu loading up on quads

Olympic and world champion Hanyu held his annual media day for the Japanese press in Toronto last week and revealed he would skate to the music from the film “Onmyoji” for his free skate this season.

Hanyu, who used the same music during the 2015-16 campaign, also revealed that he plans to include a fifth quadruple jump in his long program.

The 22-year-old superstar gave a concise answer when asked what his goal for the upcoming season was.

“My goal for the season? Of course, I want to win a second gold,” Kyodo News reported Hanyu as saying.

The Sendai native exuded confidence as he spoke to reporters about his mission of trying to become the first man in 66 years (since American Dick Button in 1948, 1952) to retain the Olympic title.

“There is not really any pressure,” Hanyu was quoted by Kyodo News. “I am feeling comfortable with my skating. My jumps, spins and steps — I have made all of the elements my own and I am not thinking about anything extraneous.”

Ice Time is wondering if a fifth quad is really necessary for Hanyu based on his supreme level of technical and artistic skill, so I asked an international coach for their opinion.

“Well, I would think that preparing for five quads will prepare him should he need them,” the coach wrote in an email. “If the situation arises that only four are required, then doing less will be easier then doing more without planning for it. All the men will be pushing their own limits and so until you get late into the season one must plan for the most you are capable of doing.

“It will be an interesting season indeed and for many their last. The sport will unveil a new era and a new cast of players next season.”

Mihara wins tuneup

Mai Mihara, who was fifth at the world championships last season, won the recent Gensun Summer Cup in Shiga. Mihara, who triumphed with a total score of 200.52 points, was joined on the podium by Rin Nitaya (180.52) and Kaori Sakamoto (172.72).

The most interesting news that emerged from the event is that Sakamoto has changed her short program music just a week after using it in a victory at the Asian Open Trophy, according to Daily Sports.

Sakamoto skated to “Danse Macabre” in Hong Kong, where she finished ahead of compatriot Yuna Shiraiwa in the senior women’s category. But at the Gensun Summer Cup she used “Moonlight Sonata” for her short program.

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher, as Sakamoto looked very sharp competing to “Danse Macabre.” It is unclear at this point if the move is temporary or permanent.

Iwano reveals program music

Moa Iwano, who will make her junior debut at the Austria JGP in Salzburg later this month, has informed Ice Time about her musical selections for this season.

Iwano, who was second at the Japan Advanced Novice Championships last season, will skate to “Asturias” for her short program and “Somewhere Only We Know” from the “Little Prince” soundtrack.

Henie movie casting call

Recently, Ice Time has written about the life of three-time Olympic champion Sonja Henie of Norway, who died at 57 in 1969.

Now comes word that there is a documentary currently being made about the Norwegian legend and 10-time world champion.

“Queen of Ice” will be shooting at the Dunarea ice rink in the Eastern Romanian city of Galati next month, according to Romania-Insider.com.

Producers of the movie about the Hollywood star were seeking 1,800 people to be extras, according to the story.

Interesting pitch

Lina Fedorova, a 19-year-old pairs skaters from Russia, who is a two-time bronze medalist at the world juniors, recently employed a unique way of looking for a new partner — she posted a message on social media via Facebook.

“Hello Everybody! Still Looking For A Partner For Figure Skating! Want A Tryout Write Me In Messenger!!”

Fedorova, who was born in Moscow, has not skated competitively since the 2014-15 season after her former partner Maxim Miroshkin was injured.