Takahashi whips men's field in Sapporo
Decorated Japanese champion rebounds from third-place finish in Canada to earn gold at NHK
|Daisuke Takahashi posted the highest competition score this season at the NHK Trophy. (Getty Images)|
Takahashi struck gold in the men's event, with teammate Kozuka claiming the silver. American Ross Miner came from sixth place to earn the bronze medal.
Takahashi went for a quad flip in his "Blues for Klook" program but underrotated the jump and fell. He recovered to produce five clean triple jumps and two Level 4 spins en route to scoring a season-best 169.32 points. The 2010 world champion racked up 259.75 points overall and, with the win, assured himself a spot in the Grand Prix Final.
"I am relieved to advance to the Grand Prix Final, but I know I must improve my performance in order to be ready for the final," Takahashi said. "My performance today wasn't 100 percent, and I won't win in the final with that kind of performance. But I am happy that I was able to land the quad flip in the six-minute warmup."
Skating to music from the movie Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Kozuka reeled off two triple Axels and four more triples, but he two-footed an underrotated quad toe. The reigning world silver medalist picked up a new season's best of 155.25 points, which brought his competition total to 235.02 points.
"Ever since the world championships, I have come to understand how good of a feeling it is to be on the podium. I'm glad to finish in the top three," Kozuka said. "However, a closer look to my performance reveals some errors. I wasn't able to skate cleanly from the beginning to the end, and before I knew it, my performance was over. I'd like to train harder so I'm able to skate very clean."
Miner turned in a solid performance to The Untouchables soundtrack that featured two triple Axels and difficult spins, earning him 141.24 points and an overall score of 212.36.
"It's awesome to be up here. I really wasn't anticipating to get a medal here. It is my first Grand Prix medal," Miner said. "When I came to this competition, my goal was to make myself happy. It wasn't perfect, but it was a solid skate."