Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi spent two weeks training with Muriel Boucher-Zazoui and her team at the Ice Academy in Lyon, France over the summer.
The 2010 World champion, who spent four hours on the ice every day, was joined by his coach Utako Nagamitsu, who taped his training sessions so he could work on them back in Japan.
In an exclusive interview with IFS, Takahashi said he had always wanted to work with Olivier Schoenfelder, the 2008 World ice dance champion.
“It was my first visit to Lyon. I wanted to improve my skating technique, not because I was bad in this sector but I think Olivier is the best,” Takahashi explained. “I love the way he skates.”
Takhahashi said he has always been a fan of the skating styles of Marina Anissina-Gwendal Peizerat and Isabelle Delobel-Olivier Schoenfelder.
“Daisuke does not want to hide but to stress his qualities with meticulous work,” Schoenfelder said. “He can do everything so you can go beyond borders with him. I knew he was very good, but I did not expect him to be that good.”
Takahashi also took part in some theater exercises. “It was difficult for me because of the language barrier but it was very interesting and quite fulfilling,” he acknowledged with a smile.
Boucher-Zazoui said it was a delight working with the talented skater. “We worked on edges and other things. He was always listening, not always asking questions perhaps because of the language barrier, but he was very, very happy to be with us.”
Takahashi knows he has a lot of work to do. “Last season was tough. I was questioning my motivation, and I lacked stability on my jumps,” he admitted. “And there is also a new generation to contend with, such as Patrick Chan and Takahiko Kozuka.”
Will ice dance guru Muriel Boucher-Zazoui have any French ice dancer teams to coach at 2012 Worlds? At the moment, that is a big question mark.
In the summer she called it quits with ice dancers Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones. “There were more and more tensions with them and so they had to leave,” Boucher-Zazoui explained.
“They were helped by the French federation to leave Lyon and they left with my blessing. I told the federation a few truths. I am wondering if the French federation is willing to push French athletes towards foreign coaches to train them.”
Carron and Jones, who placed ninth at 2011 Europeans and 12th at Worlds, relocated to the U.S. and are now training with Natalia Linichuk.
In 2000, Boucher-Zazoui’s team of Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat claimed the World ice dance title, but France will have only two ice dance teams at the 2012 Worlds in Nice.
On a positive note, Boucher-Zazoui has high hopes for her junior team, Tiffany Zahorski and Alexis Miart, which placed fourth at 2011 Junior Worlds. Unfortunately, the team experienced a setback in early July after Miart suffered a fracture to the right malleolus (ankle).
Following surgery and rehabilitation he was expected to be back on the ice in October. “I hope they will be ready in time for French Nationals in mid-December, where they could earn the third spot on the French team to compete at Europeans in Sheffield in January,” Boucher-Zazoui said.
Originally published in October 2011