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Takahashi's Tango takes the day in Japan

Abbott takes silver; Amodio claims bronze

Daisuke Takahashi collected 234.79 total points to win gold at the NHK Trophy.
Daisuke Takahashi collected 234.79 total points to win gold at the NHK Trophy. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(10/24/2010) - Daisuke Takahashi thrilled fans at the NHK Trophy with a taut, exciting free skate to an Astor Piazzolla Tango and won his home-country Grand Prix for the first time since 2007.

Japan's world champion opened with a soaring quadruple toe loop, followed by a triple Axel and triple loop. Although he singled a triple Salchow attempt and fell on the second jump of a triple Lutz-double loop combination, he maintained the intensity of Pasquale Camerlengo's choreography throughout and was rewarded with stellar program component scores.

Takahashi earned 156.75 points for the free, bringing his total to 234.79 overall. He took gold by an impressive 16.60 points.

Jeremy Abbott took the subtle approach with his free to Nicole Piovani's La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful) soundtrack, emphasizing the whimsy and life-affirming aspects of the story of a father shielding his young son from the horrors of a WWII concentration camp.

The two-time U.S. champion held interest with evocative steps and finely measured transitions, but several jumping mistakes -- including singling his second triple Axel and under-rotating a triple Lutz -- hurt his technical score, and he earned 143.57 points for third in the free. He won silver with 218.19 points.

Frenchman Florent Amodio climbed from fourth after the short program to claim the bronze medal with an energetic effort to pop dance tunes topped with a few Michael Jackson-style crotch grabs. While not as sophisticated as the top two skaters' efforts, the program was entertaining and mostly clean in terms of jumps. Higher technical scores helped Amodio edge Abbott for second in the free with 143.76 points, and he finished with 213.77.

Japan's world junior champion Yuzuru Hanyu landed a superb quad toe loop en route to fourth place. Shawn Sawyer of Canada skated an inventive free to music from Danny Elfman's Alice in Wonderland soundtrack, but flawed jumps -- including an under-rotated triple Axel -- dropped him from third after the short to fifth overall.

Performing to music from Casablanca, Ross Miner hit his triple Axel and five other triples, but "edge" calls on two triple flips, as well as an under rotated triple Salchow, limited his score to 121.77 points. The 2009 U.S. junior champion placed ninth with 186.62.