JAPANESE KINGS OF THE ICE
After winning the World Junior crown in 2002, Japan's Daisuke Takahashi stood on the cusp of international renown. He subsequently won a number of senior international events, but problems with jump consistency cost him bigger victories at the World level.
His breakthrough skate can be traced to Christmas 2006 at the Japanese national championships.
Skating to Andrew Lloyd Webber's powerful “Phantom of the Opera,” Takahashi’s fluid technique and artistic flair fused to create a sensational performance that drove the audience wild. Watch particularly for his quadruple toe loop right off the bat.
Much to the delight of his fans, Takahashi did it again three months later at the World Championships in Tokyo. Winning the free, he moved up from third place after the short program to take the silver medal behind Brian Joubert of France.
Here is his long program from 2006 Japanese nationals:
THREE DECADES EARLIER...
Combining soft knees and a musical style, Minoru Sano was Japan's answer to John Curry, Robin Cousins, and Charlie Tickner all wrapped up into one. His spins were fast and his jumps had a noticeable ease, deep edges and great outflow.
In 1977, Tokyo became the first city outside North America and Europe to host the World Championships. In an era when strong compulsory figure skaters often determined the medals, Sano won the free skate and claimed bronze.
The first Japanese skater ever to stand on a World podium, Sano retired immediately after the event, becoming a national hero.