Figure Skating

Shoma Uno and Daisuke Takahashi making final preparations for Japan championships

by Jack Gallagher

Olympic and world silver medalist Shoma Uno and former world champion Daisuke Takahashi went through their paces at practice ahead of the start of the Japan championships here on Friday.

The competition begins with the women’s short program on Friday afternoon, but the anticipation for Saturday’s men’s short program is great with the return of Takahashi after a four-year retirement.

Uno, who is heavily favored to win his third straight national title, worked on his free skate to “Moonlight Sonata” in the afternoon session, while Takahashi ran through his short program to “The Sheltering Sky.”

Takahashi’s jumps looked sharp on the ice and he said he is still debating whether to include a quadruple jump in his free skate on Monday. He did land a nice quad toe loop during training this day.

His short program layout will be the same as it was at the West Japan sectionals in Nagoya last month, Takahashi said.

“I always get nervous at the nationals. As a result, I could not give a good performance the past two years,” Uno stated. “This year I just want to perform well.”

When asked about Takahashi’s comeback, Uno gave a blunt reply.

“I can’t afford to think about other things and him right now,” Uno commented. “There are things I have to learn, but I can’t afford to look around. I just need to concentrate on myself.”

The Nagoya native admitted that he took it easy this day.

“I wanted to check jumps through the program, but I did not want to work too much,” Uno said. “I just checked each jump, because I have already had enough in practice. I just worked on adjustments.”

Takahashi believes he is primed to compete here despite being 32 now.

“Before coming here I thought I would feel nervous, but to my surprise I feel OK,” Takahashi remarked. “It’s a different atmosphere than at the Nishi-Nihon here.”

As for the progress he is making in his return, the Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist provided an update.

“I think my level is improving on my spins and steps, so I want to give my best performance,” Takahashi said. “I feel now that my jumps are even better than five years ago. If my condition is good, I can do well. If I can do well constantly or not, I’m still not sure.”