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Daisuke Takahashi Makes History in Italy

Daisuke Takahashi made history yesterday when he skated to the top of the podium at the 2010 World Championships being held in Torino, Italy. He is the first Japanese man to take that title. Canada’s Patrick Chan claimed the silver medal and Brian Joubert of France earned the bronze medal, repeating their respective placements from a year ago in Los Angeles.

With two segments of the ice dance competition completed, reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are in first place. Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the 2010 Olympic silver medalists, are in second place while European silver medalists Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy remain in the third spot.

THE MEN

Takahashi, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, racked up a total of 257.70 points in his golden showing. “I enjoyed [being here] a lot because the audience was helping me. I didn’t have big mistakes,” Takahashi said. “It was very good. I’m proud to be the first Japanese man to win a World title.”

The 2007 World silver medalistdrew to skate last out of the 24 men and went for a quad flip right at the beginning of his emotional routine to “La Strada.” The jump was two-footed and downgraded.

The 2010 Olympic bronze medalist went on to reel off a triple Axel-double toe, a triple flip-triple toe and another triple Axel as well as three more triples. His three spins and both step sequences were graded a level four. The four-time Japanese champion compiled his season best score — 168.40 points (81.90 element score/86.50 program component score).

“I don’t know why, but somehow I didn’t feel pressure in this competition. I even missed Evan (Lysacek) and Stéphane (Lambiel). … It was more of a challenge-based competition for me and I really enjoyed that challenge,” Takahashi said.

For Chan, his performances in Italy offered a bit of redemption as he placed fifth at the Olympic Games where he did not skate his best (especially in the short program in which he placed seventh).

Chan scored 247.22 points for the competition in Italy to earn his second consecutive silver medal. “I think that this season was quite a challenge,” Chan said. “Today it’s the silver medal but I think that it’s more gold medal for the effort I put into this season, coming out from the injury, having a bad Skate Canada performance and disappointing Olympic performance as well.”

Skating to “The Phantom of the Opera,” Chan nailed a triple flip-triple toe, a triple Axel as well as two additional clean triples. He went down on a triple loop and stepped out of the triple Salchow. The Canadian scored 159.42 points (78.02/82.40) for his free skate.

“I was really happy how I performed here [and] how I kept it together until the end to the long program,” Chan said. “I was able to go out there and enjoy myself overall. I really enjoyed each jump and element.”

Joubert pulled off a quad-double toe loop combination, a solo quad toe loop and a triple Axel but fell on a triple Lutz. The Frenchman achieved his season best score (154.04) for the free skate and totaled 241.74 points to add a sixth World medal to his collection.

“I’m very happy with this competition in general — with the practices, the short program and the free program,” Joubert said. “I made some mistakes in the free because I was a little bit tired but I’m very happy because I did two quads. I was confident. This was the main goal for me.”

Joubert placed a disappointing 16th at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. “I’m very proud because it was so difficult after the Olympic Games,” Joubert said. “I didn’t know if I was still able to compete like I did before [that]. Now I have my answer. I know I can fight again. It’s my 15th medal with Europeans and Worlds; that’s great.”

Michal Brezina (CZE) ranked third in the free skate with a strong performance that featured five clean triples. He finished fourth overall with 236.06 points. Jeremy Abbott (USA) placed fifth. He missed a quad toe and a double Axel but hit eight triples (232.10 points). Adam Rippon (USA) placed sixth in his World Championship debut with 231.47 points.

THE ICE DANCE

Virtue and Moir put out a passionate Spanish Flamenco that was highlighted by precise footwork and a curve lift. The Canadians were awarded a level four for the twizzles, the circular steps and the lift to earn 70.27 points (34.30 element score/35.97 program component score), their season best score.

“Tessa and I were very excited about our performance today, pretty pleased with where we brought the program the last two weeks,” Moir said. “It was a very strong technical skate. I don’t think we quite had the magic that we had at the Olympic Games but we are very pleased with the performance.”

Heading into the free dance, the Canadians have a total of 114.40 points. “Our job requires us to get in and out of character, whether it’s the free dance, the compulsory dances [or] the original dance,” Virtue said. “We worked a lot with this [original dance] program off the ice with Flamenco dancers that live and train in Spain. A lot of that passion that they taught us now comes from within.”

Davis and White once again entertained the crowd with their exotic Indian-themed dance. They completed intricate steps while earning a level four for both step sequences and their twizzles. Their curve lift with changes of positions was scored a level four as well.

The two-time and reigning U.S. champions earned their season best score with 69.29 points (34.10/35.19). Their total score after two segments of the competition is 112.54.

White said heading in this competition, he and Davis talked about using their Olympic experience to help them improve as skaters and performers. “I think we just did that,” he said. “We stepped it up a little bit as we did all we could. Obviously this is our season’s best and we are very pleased. Definitely, this is one of my favorite programs.”

To the delight of the home crowd, Faiella and Scali performed an Italian tarantella. They earned a level four for their side-by-side footwork and the lift, but their wobbly twizzles were graded a level one. The Italians received 59.16 points (27.90/31.26) and have accumulated 100.01 points at this point in the competition.

“We made a mistake (on the twizzle) because we got too close each other. We tried all the time to improve and to do better, but this time we exaggerated and our bodies got too close,” Scali said. “It is difficult to control the pressure with such a fantastic audience, but we have to learn to transform it into positive energy.”

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (FRA) rank fourth with an upbeat American country dance, but he stepped out of a twizzle (96.30 points). Sinead Kerr and John Kerr (GBR) moved up one spot to fifth with a Scottish dance (95.79 points). Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski (RUS) slipped to sixth after a stumble in the circular footwork (91.98 points).


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