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Takahashi reunites with Morozov for Sochi push

Skater, coach parted ways in 2008; "This is a new challenge for me"

Daisuke Takahashi says he "never lost respect for Nikoli" after their 2008 break-up.
Daisuke Takahashi says he "never lost respect for Nikoli" after their 2008 break-up. (Getty Images)

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By Akiko Tamura and Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(06/15/2012) - Daisuke Takahashi made a surprising announcement Friday in Japan.

"I have decided to work with Nikoli Morozov again," the reigning world silver medalist said at a press conference held after the Dreams on Ice show in Shin-Yokohama.

Takahashi, 26, trained with Morozov for three years, from the spring of 2005 to 2008, culminating in the skater's acclaimed free skate to a hip-hop version of Swan Lake. During that time, Takahashi won a world silver medal (2007) and three Japanese titles, but the relationship ended after Morozov began coaching Nobunari Oda, one of Takahashi's main rivals at the time, without informing Takahashi beforehand.

"At the time, I found the situation was not acceptable," Takahashi said. "But I never lost respect for Nikoli as a coach and choreographer. He was the one who took me to the next level, and I always was grateful for that."

Takahashi's current coach in Osaka, Utako Nagamitsu, accepted the skater's decision to work with Morozov. Nagamitsu will remain as primary coach, with Morozov working with them as an advisory coach.

The 2008 Takahashi-Morozov break-up wasn't entirely amicable, at least on Morozov's side. The Moscow-born coach, who is known for his blunt, outspoken manner, blamed Takahashi's agent, Tak Ihara, for the split. According to Morozov, the agent caused too much friction.

"I told Daisuke either to choose me or [Ihara], and he picked his agent," Morozov said back then. "Before I took on Nobunari, our relationship was already over."

That was four years ago. Since then, his feelings have changed, Morozov said. He flew to Japan for one day only to attend Friday's press conference. Standing next to Takahashi, he spoke to the Japanese media.

"I will be very honest with you: Daisuke is the best skater I ever worked with," Morozov said. "I always felt bad about how our relationship ended. In my soul, I knew I had unfinished business with him."

Morozov called Ihara at the end of last season to ask if Takahashi would consider working with him again.

"We had not really spoken since the break-up," Takahashi said. "So when I heard about his offer, it was so unexpected. I was very surprised, to say the least."

The skater, who worked with choreographer Pasquale Camerlengo for his well-received 2011-12 free skate to "Blues for Klook," waited until season's end to make a decision.

"I needed a lot of time to think about this," he said.

Takahashi finished 2011-12 on a high note. In April, he won the men's event at the World Team Trophy held in Tokyo, defeating reigning two-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada by more than 16 points.

But Takahashi wasn't satisfied with himself.

"I want to improve every aspect of my skating," he said. "I was very comfortable with my training environment last season, but maybe a little too comfortable. I think I need a little extra push.

"Also, I felt having a Russian coach on our team could be a big help preparing for Sochi."

However, Takahashi and Morozov's relationship will be very different from last time, according to the skater.

"I'm a different person and a different skater now," he said. "When I was with Nikoli last time, I totally relied on him for every decision we made. But now I'm more independent and capable of making my own judgments. This will be a strictly professional relationship for our project toward the Sochi Olympics.

"We both have changed since last time we trained together. We have to try and see if each of us can live up to the expectations of the other. This will give me a new challenge."

Skater and coach have not yet discussed in detail how much training time they will spend together, or where they'll be training. Recently, Morozov has trained his skaters in Hackensack, N.J., and has also made arrangements for ice time in Connecticut.

Takahashi's new competitive programs have not yet been finalized.

"I approached Lori Nichol," he said. "I was very much looking forward to working with her. But the circumstances have since changed."

When asked if Morozov would choreograph his 2012-13 programs, Takahashi demurred.

"Probably not this season," he said. "At this time, we have not decided who will choreograph my new programs."