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Takahashi splits with coach Morozov

Renowned coach will now train Takahashi's rival, Nobunari Oda

Daisuke Takahashi performs during his free skate at the 2008 Japan Open.
Daisuke Takahashi performs during his free skate at the 2008 Japan Open. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(05/06/2008) - At a press conference Tuesday, Japanese champion Daisuke Takahashi confirmed he will part ways with coach and choreographer Nikolai Morozov.

The move was prompted by the Japanese Skating Federation's recent announcement that Takahashi's main national rival, Nobunari Oda, would now be coached by Morozov in Hackensack, N.J. Previously, Oda had trained in Barrie, Ontario, under Lee Barkell.

"Nikolai is a good coach, but as Oda is my rival. It would be hard to work together," Takahashi told Japanese reporters at a media event held at the Shin-Yokohama Prince Hotel Skate Center.

He added that he was looking for new choreographers.

In their three seasons together, Morozov transformed the 22-year-old skater from a talented but somewhat inconsistent young competitor into a top world contender. Takahashi marked himself for greatness when he became the first Japanese man to win the world junior title in 2002. However, in his early years as a senior, a bronze-medal finish at the 2005 ISU Four Continents Championship was his best international finish.

Then, in 2005, he began training with Morozov. He won Skate America and followed that with a bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final and his first Japanese title. Although he placed a disappointing eighth at the 2006 Olympics, he came back with a successful 2006-2007 campaign, winning the NHK Trophy, placing second at the Grand Prix Final, and successfully defending his Japanese crown.

Takahashi had his most notable competition thus far at the 2007 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Tokyo, where he thrilled a home country crowd with an electric performance to Phantom of the Opera, choreographed by Morozov. Third after the short program, he won the free skate and, with it, the silver medal.

Throughout his years with Morozov, Takahashi often returned to Japan to train at Kansai University's rink under Utako Nagamitsu.

"I like practicing here [in Hackensack] with so many top skaters," Takahashi said last fall. "Nikolai is a very, very hard worker. He pushes me, and that's good. I need both the Japanese [way] and Nikolai. Both of my coaches work on everything with me. Also, when I am in Japan, [former Japanese champion] Takeshi Honda works with me on my jumps."

This past season, Takahashi and Morozov won wide acclaim for the skater's programs, particularly his short performed to a hip-hop version of Swan Lake. After he amassed an astounding 264.41 points in winning the 2008 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, it was widely expected Takahashi would contend for the world title in Gothenburg in March. A poor free skate, however, which included several failed triple Axels, kept him off the podium in fourth place.

Morozov has a long association with Japanese skaters. Previously, he coached Shizuka Arakawa to the 2006 Olympic gold medal, the first ever for a Japanese lady. Currently, he trains 2007 world champion Miki Ando.

Oda will be attempting a comeback of sorts during the 2008-2009 season. In July 2007, he was cited by Japanese police for driving his moped under the influence of alcohol. Although no one was injured, the Japanese Skating Federation suspended him from international competition for several months. He also performed community service and paid a fine. While Oda was eligible to return to action at the Japanese championships, he elected to sit out the season and did not attempt to qualify for the 2008 World Championships.