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Takahashi impresses his coach most of all

Morozov says Daisuke's "potential is unlimited"

Daisuke Takahashi performs his 'hip-hop' short program.
Daisuke Takahashi performs his 'hip-hop' short program. (Michelle Harvath)

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By Jack Gallagher, special to icenetwork.com
(11/16/2007) - Daisuke Takahashi, the men's runner-up at last season's world championships, and winner of this season's Skate America in commanding fashion, is clearly an elite skater.

The Kansai University student has excited many in the skating community with both his jumping and presentation skills. There appears to be no bigger fan, however, than his coach, Nikolai Morozov.

When asked about 21-year-old Takahashi recently, Morozov shook his head and said, "The potential for this guy is unlimited. He is so smooth on the ice. He looks like he is moving across it on skis.

"He is so naturally talented," noted Morozov. "The most important thing is that he skates from his heart."

The 2002 world junior champion, Takahashi is next slated to compete in the NHK Trophy in Sendai later this month. Takahashi won the same event last year in Nagano.

Stellar juniors

Led by Yuki Nishino, Japanese skaters excelled on this season's Junior Grand Prix circuit. Nishino won both the Tallin Cup (in Estonia) and the J. Curry Memorial (in Sheffield, England).

Satsuki Muramoto finished second in the Sofia Cup (in Bulgaria), while Rumi Suizu came in third at both the Harghita Cup (in Romania) and Pokal der Blauen Schwerter (in Germany).

On the junior men's side, Tatsuki Machida captured the title at the J. Curry Memorial (in England) and Takahito Mura notched third-place showings at both the Tallin Cup and Pokal der Blauern Schwerter.

Nishino will be going up against American rival Mirai Nagasu, also a two-time winner on the JGP circuit this season, at next month's Junior Grand Prix Final in Gdansk, Poland.

Rink report

Japanese skaters have been finding it increasingly difficult in recent years to secure ice time to work on their programs. The crowded conditions at public rinks have forced several skaters to move overseas to train.

Veteran Fumie Suguri recently cited it as one of the reasons for her decision to move to Moscow and train under coach Alexander Zhulin. An exasperated Suguri called the rink situation in her native country "really difficult to cope with."

Some degree of relief arrived back in May when Nagoya's Chukyo University, where both 2007 world champion Miki Ando and Takahiko Kozuka, the men's 2006 world junior champion, study, opened its Aurora Rink. The facility is the first in Japan designed exclusively for figure skating and will be used as a national training center. The all-season rink boasts a 60 x 30-meter rink, which is the national standard in Japan.

The rink also boasts four high-speed cameras and stereos. 2006 Olympic champion Shizuka Arakawa and 1989 world champion Midori Ito acted as consultants on the technology, according to Japan's Figure Skating magazine. Including practice facilities, the rink cost 12.5 billion yen ($110 million) to build.

Forced out

Mao and Mai Asada were forced to evacuate their Lake Arrowhead, Calif., training facilities due to last month's wildfires. The local rink was closed for several days, forcing the sisters to relocate to Toronto.

Despite the move, Mao went on to a solid victory at Skate Canada the following week. She is scheduled to compete in the Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris this weekend.