Takahashi tops podium at Skate America
Japan's Daisuke Takahashi survives free skate to win gold
|Evan Lysacek, Daisuke Takahashi and Patrick Chan. (Michelle Harvath)|
After falling on the front end of his intended quadruple toe-double toe combination, Takahashi again hit the ice on his triple Lutz. His shaky performance came just after an excellent one by Evan Lysacek, one in which he landed a quad and eight triples.
But in the end, Takahasi's skating quality, not to mention his 12.34-point lead after the short program, was too much to overcome, and he was crowned the Skate America men's champion Saturday night at Sovereign Arena for the second time in three years. Lysacek won the silver at this event for the third year in a row. He finished behind Takahashi in 2005 and Takahashi's countryman, Nobunari Oda, last season. Canadian Patrick Chan took the bronze, his first Grand Prix Series medal.
Lysacek debuted his much-anticipated "Tosca" program, and it was everything the crowd hoped it would be. He opened with a quad toe, which he landed with some difficulty. He followed that with three clean triples (Axel, loop, Salchow) and then two tight spins. After a triple Axel-double toe, he unleashed a huge triple flip-triple toe, which earned 11.85 points, the most for any one element in the segment. His four spins in the program were awarded three level fours and one level three. It all amounted to a segment score of 152.38, best in the field, and a competition mark of 220.08.
"Debuting two new programs here was kind of a first for me in quite a while, so I think that I went out and fought through everything tonight," Lysacek said. "I wanted to sort of build a connection with the audience, and it's something that I talked with (NBC announcer) Sandra Bezic today, and we were trying to establish a connection and a mutual respect between the audience and the judges and the skater, so I think that's what I was kind of going for tonight."
Takahashi, too, started with a quad, but his was big and clean, and the judges gave him 10.4 points for it. His next quad attempt, however, resulted in a fall. It was the middle of his program, namely the consecutive triple Axel-double toe (10.88 points) and triple flip-triple toe (10.25 points) combinations, that went a long way toward deciding the competition in Takahashi's favor.
His free skate score of 148.93 was second best in the segment and, coupled with his short program total, gave him 228.97 points for the competition. He won by nearly nine points, mostly on the strength of his otherworldly short program.
"I am happy with the result, but I am not happy with today's performance," Takahashi said. "I fell two times and the spin was not good and the second step was not good. I think I need more practice."
Chan's previous Grand Prix experience consisted of a fifth-place finish at Trophee Eric Bompard and a seventh-place finish at the NHK Trophy last season, but he skated like a seasoned vet Saturday night. He exhibited his athleticism and quickness in his "Four Seasons" free skate, which was darn near perfect right up until his last jump element, the triple flip, on which he took a spill.
His free skate score of 145.86 blew away his previous best as did his overall score of 213.33 (his previous highs were 122.10 and 184.55, respectively).
"Coming to Skate America and it being the first Grand Prix, I definitely wanted to make a good impression. I trained really hard," Chan said. "I watched Skate America a couple of years ago on TV and I saw that a lot of the guys seemed a bit shaky, so I really made sure this time I came into the competition and was ready, train the program properly and the results showed."
In fourth was American Stephen Carriere, who moved up from sixth after the short program. Making his senior debut, Carriere showed flashes of the potential that could put him on the podium at this year's U.S. Championships.
France's Alban Preaubert, third at last year's Skate America, took fifth this time around.