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Monday, Dec. 3, 2007

Takahashi wins second straight NHK Trophy


Staff writer

SENDAI — Using eight triple jumps and superior footwork, Daisuke Takahashi won his second straight NHK Trophy title and clinched a trip to the Grand Prix Final on Sunday afternoon.

News photo
Daisuke Takahashi performs during his free program at the NHK Trophy at Sendai Municipal Gymnasium on Sunday. He defended his title at the tournament with a come-from-behind win. KYODO PHOTOS

Skating before a capacity crowd at Sendai City Gymnasium, Takahashi fell on his opening quadruple toe loop, but bounced back with an impressive series of triple jumps, including an outstanding triple axel to begin a triple combination jump that had the crowd roaring.

Takahashi, whose free skate bettered the mark he got when he won Skate America, had a winning score of 234.22 in the last of this season's six Grand Prix events.

Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic, who won the short program on Saturday, finished second at 229.45.

American Stephen Carriere, the world junior champion who finished fourth at Skate America, was third with 204.98.

Skating to "Romeo and Juliet," Takahashi earned the trip to the GP Final in Turin, Italy, later this month with his all-around consistency and strong component scores. His was especially proficient in his spins and step sequences.

"My performance was not perfect today," said Takahashi. "However, my goal of winning the NHK Trophy again was achieved."

"I had planned to do two quadruple jumps, but changed that to one. I know what I need to work on after today.

Verner, who performed to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," tripled his planned opening quadruple toe loop and was unable to complete a triple combo jump, tried hard but could not quite match the level of Takahashi's skill on the ice.

"I left a lot of points out there on the ice today," Verner noted. "But I still feel great about what I did accomplish."

News photo
Daisuke Takahashi reacts to the fans' applause after winning his second straight NHK Trophy title at Sendai Municipal Gymnasium on Sunday.

Verner, who skated last, admitted it was a tall order to follow Takahashi after he had posted high scores in front of the partisan crowd.

"I didn't expect it would be so hard to follow him, but it was," said Verner.

Carriere competed to "Hollywood Nocturne" and planned a triple axel-double toe loop opening jump, but only completed the first part. With the exception of a two-foot landing on a triple axel, though, he skated strongly the rest of the way to post a season's best score in his free skate.

"This whole week has been an adventure," Carriere said. "I am proud of myself for earning my first Grand Prix medal.

"I'm looking forward to taking this experience and working with it at nationals and hopefully worlds."

Kensuke Nakaniwa (180.70 ) was eighth, while Yasuharu Nanri (176.25) placed 10th.

Joining Takahashi in the GP Final will be Americans Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek, Canada's Patrick Chan, Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel and Belgium's Kevin Van Der Perren.

In the case of injury or illness, Carriere is the men's first alternate for Turin.

The women's GP Final will be comprised of Mao Asada and Yukari Nakano, South Korea's Kim Yu Na, Americans Kimmie Meissner and Caroline Zhang, and Italy's Carolina Kostner, who won the women's title here on Saturday night.

Switzerland's Sarah Meier, second behind Kostner here, is the women's first alternate.

Next year's NHK Trophy will be held in Tokyo.



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