It was a whirlwind season for Daisuke Murakami.
Born in Kanagawa, Japan, his family moved to southern California in 2000. Murakami initially planned to skate for the U.S., but in 2007 he had a change of heart and decided to compete for his native Japan.
In 2008, Murakami relocated to the east coast to train with Nikolai Morozov. They parted ways in mid-2010 and Murakami returned to California to train under legendary coach Frank Carroll.
“Last summer I decided that it was time for a change,” Murakami said. “I got so used to training under a Russian coach that once I made the move it really hit me that I needed to start training my programs and doing run-throughs. I wasn’t doing any of that when I was with Nikolai.
“It has been a completely different training schedule with Frank, and that was what really helped me this season.”
Murakami is glad to be back where it all started. “I really missed being able to go to the beach whenever I wanted to,” he said. “It’s also nice to get to see all of the friends that I made when I trained here before. Other than Japan, southern California really feels like home.”
Carroll immediately got to work, laid out a training plan and set about retooling his young student’s jumping techniques.
He credits Carroll with helping him slay the demons that have haunted him in the past. “Frank really helps to translate any negativity I have into positive energy,” Murakami, 20, said.
“In the last couple of years I wasn’t really having any fun with my skating, but Frank helped me realize that I should always have fun and not worry about results. All of those little things that he has taught me really helped me to grow in my skating last season.”
In early October with a fresh perspective, Murakami headed to his first competition of the season, Finlandia Trophy, where he finished fifth.
He equaled that placement a month later at Skate America, but his total score in Portland was more than twenty points higher than what he achieved in Finland.
“It was the first time that I scored more than 200 points. That was such a great competition for me,” Murakami said.
He credits the coaching change for his dramatic rise through the Japanese ranks this season. After placing a disappointing 19th at the 2010 Japanese nationals, he skated into a respectable seventh place last January.
“My jumps have gotten a lot more consistent, but also my personality comes out a lot more in my skating than it did in past seasons,” Murakami explained when asked the reason behind his rapid improvement.
He capped off the season by winning a bronze medal at the Winter Universiade in late January and silver at the Triglav Trophy, which was held in Slovenia in early April. “I was really excited to skate for my home country in competition,” Murakami said.
His hard work has paid off. Murakami has been named to Team Japan for the 2011-12 season. He has also secured a sponsor to help cover his training expenses.
“I am very happy that I am being sponsored by the Yoshindo Company of Japan,” Murakami said with obvious pride. “That means that I will work for them for the next year by representing them in competitions.”
After a taking a well-earned vacation, he plans to get back to work and prepare for next season.
“I will continue to do jump training, and will probably have to start taking ballet because I’m not really that graceful,” he admitted.
“I will start making new programs early this year so that I can be ready for any competition that the Japanese Skating Federation throws at me.“