Takahashi, Asada claim double gold for Japan
SOCHI, Russia (AFP) –
Daisuke Takahashi made more history on Saturday when he became the first Japanese man to win the ISU figure skating Grand Prix Final after countrywoman Mao Asada earlier won a third women’s gold.
Takahashi, already the first Japanese man to win an Olympic figure skating medal and world title, finally won gold in the elite six-skater event after finishing on the podium four times.
“I’m really happy after this result but my skating wasn’t good today,” said the 2010 Olympic bronze medal winner and 2010 world champion.
The 26-year-old held his overnight lead from the short programme despite a fall on his opening quad toe jump which saw him finish third in his free skate to “I Pagliacci” by Ruggero Leoncavallo.
He recovered with a second quad toe and added five more clean triples to finish top with 269.40 points, leading a Japanese 1-2 ahead of Yuzuru Hanyu at the new 12,000-seater Iceberg arena in the Black Sea resort city.
Hanyu, 18, opened with a quad toe and landed seven triples to take the silver with 264.29 as defending two-time champion Patrick Chan fell on his opening quad toe to take bronze with 258.66.
“To be honest, I’m pretty disappointed with my performance today. I did an extra combo. … Now I know not to do it again,” said Chan, who had his final jump invalidated because he exceeded the number of jump combinations that can be done in the free skate.
“I think I was missing a bit of the drive to be better,” added Chan, who will bid for a third world title at home in Canada next March.
Spaniard Javier Fernandez, who won the free skating section with his new season’s best 178.43, was fourth overall with 258.62, ahead of another Japanese pair, Takahiko Kozuka and Tatsuki Machida.
Earlier Asada blew away her rivals to claim a third title.
The 22-year-old Olympic silver medallist received a season’s best 129.84 points for her “Swan Lake” free skate for an overall 196.80 points to take the gold by a comfortable 14.87 margin on US champion Ashley Wagner.
“I am happy that I was able to skate everything,” said Asada, a former two-time world champion, after reclaiming the title she previously won in 2005 and 2008 on the ice which will host the 2014 Winter Games figure skating event.
“I’m relieved because I had some problems during the season, having not enough speed for my long programme and other things that needed to improve.
“Today I was able to get proper elements I was looking for. I will work hard for my next competition.”
Mistakes cost Wagner, who was just 0.52 behind Asada after short programme, as she scored just fourth highest for her free skate, but managed to keep her runner-up spot collecting 181.93 overall.
Another Japanese skater Akiko Suzuki, the world bronze medallist, finished third with 180.77 to take bronze.
“Today was definitely not my best performance, but overall I’m happy that I was able to keep it together,” said Wagner.
“The axel was a bit of a freak fall, but to have such a hard fall and then go and do a triple flip of that quality is definitely something that I can take away from this competition.”
Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, 15, pulled out a strong free skate for which she scored the second highest but failed to lift herself up from fifth.
But in pairs home hopes Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov claimed gold despite mistakes in their “Violin Muse” free programme.
Although they were second in the free programme they finished three points ahead of fellow Russians Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov.
Chinese Olympic silver medallists Pang Qing and Tong Jian were third.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the 2011 world champions, held their overnight lead to win the ice dancing title, by a 3.56 margin on Canada’s reigning Olympic and world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat won bronze.