Daisuke Takahashi makes Japan’s Olympic team; Mao Asada stunned
Daisuke Takahashi was named to Japan’s three-man Olympic figure skating team Monday, one day after a fifth-place finish at the National Championships left him with a bloody hand, in tears and in doubt of going to Sochi.
Also Monday, Mao Asada was third at Japan’s National Championships, though she still safely made her second Olympic team.
Takahashi, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist and world champion, was selected over the third- and fourth-place finishers at Japan’s National Championships, Takahiko Kozuka and Nobunari Oda.
Here’s video of the team announcement, with Takahashi’s name being read at the three-minute mark and a full crowd going wild.
Both Kozuka and Oda are veterans with Olympic and World Championships experience. But neither has excelled on the major international stage like Takahashi.
Grand Prix Final champion Yuzuru Hanyu locked up the first of three spots by winning the National Championships. Hanyu is seen as, at least, a co-favorite for Sochi gold with Canada’s Patrick Chan.
The second and third berths would go to skaters based not only their finishes at nationals, but also on how they’ve performed at international events. One berth went to Tatsuki Machida, the Skate America champion who took second to Hanyu on Sunday.
The other went to Takahashi, who was better than Kozuka and Oda during the Grand Prix season in the fall. Takahashi, the 2012-13 Grand Prix Final champion, pulled out of this year’s Grand Prix Final with a leg injury.
He said Saturday that the injury no longer caused him pain, but it did affect his confidence in the short program.
Takahashi fell on his opening jump in his free skate Sunday, badly two-footed another jump and put his hand down on another (video here). He appeared to skate most of his program with a bloody hand, perhaps from the opening fall. He briefly walked out of a post-skate interview in tears (video here).
2010 Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada leads Japan’s three-woman team to Sochi. Though Asada shockingly finished third at the National Championships, behind her Sochi Olympic teammates Akiko Suzuki and Kanako Murakami.
Here’s video of Asada’s free skate Monday. Asada has won six of the last eight Japanese National Championships. It was her lowest finish at nationals in 10 years.
Miki Ando, a two-time world champion, finished seventh at nationals and did not make the team. She gave birth to a girl in April.