Takahashi triumphs at home despite fall

Takahashi triumphs at home despite fall

SAPPORO, Japan - Agence France-Presse
Takahashi triumphs at home despite fall

Daisuke Takahashi performs during the men’s free skate at the NHK Trophy. AFP photo

Japan’s former figure skating world champion Daisuke Takahashi crashed attempting a historic quadruple flip yesterday, but recovered to win the NHK Trophy and earn a place in the Grand Prix final.

He under-rotated the planned jump and fell on the ice in his opening element, but picked himself up to outshine the rest in both technical execution and artistry in the men’s final free skate at the season’s fourth GP.

If the Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist had landed it, he would have been the first skater ever to succeed in the four-revolution flip in competition.

Takahashi, who failed to retain his world title in March and opened his Grand Prix season with a third-place finish at Skate Canada two weeks ago, also dominated Saturday’s short program with his personal record of 90.43 points.

Going out with a 10.66-point lead over teammate Takashiko Kozuka, black-clad Takahashi skated to “Blues for Klook” by Eddy Louiss in his first blues-themed routine, nailing seven other jumps and hitting a maximum level-four in two spins.

He collected 169.32 points for the free skate, which combined with his short-programme score to make him the winner by an impressive margin of 24.73 points on 259.75.

Kozuka, last season’s world championship silver medallist, finished second on 235.02 and American Rose Miner jumped to third spot from sixth overnight on 212.36 to lift his first-ever Grand Prix medal.

“For the first time in my life, I could nail a quad flip in the six-minute warm-up,” the 25-year-old Takahashi said.

“But in the real competition I overstrained myself in landing and crashed. It still feels great now that I know how I could do it.”

Takahashi also attempted a quad flip but under-rotated it when he became the first Japanese men’s world champion in March 2010. But he avoided it at Skate Canada and in the NHK short programme, playing it safe.

“Both my quad toeloop and flip are getting better and I’ll work hard to make them stable so I can use either of them at the Grand Prix final,” he said.