Daisuke Takahashi fifth at Japan figure skating nationals

Daisuke Takahashi
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The 2010 Olympic men’s figure skating bronze medalist and world champion is in danger of missing the Sochi Olympics.

Daisuke Takahashi placed fifth at the Japanese National Championships in Saitama on Sunday. Japan will name three men to its Olympic team. Japan’s selection procedures for its Olympic team are here (in Japanese) and, if Google Translate is to be believed, include discretionary wiggle room.

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).

Takahashi, who was fourth after the short program Saturday, fell way behind winner Yuzuru Hanyu and second-place Tatsuki Machida, the other two best Japanese skaters this season. In third and fourth were Takahiko Kozuka and Nobunari Oda, who were eighth and seventh at the 2010 Olympics.

Takahashi pulled out of the Dec. 5-8 Grand Prix Final, won by Hanyu, with a right leg injury. He said Saturday that the injury no longer caused him pain, but it did affect his confidence.

Japan has been known to replace higher-placing athletes with more accomplished veterans in the Olympic arena.

In 2008, gymnast Koki Sakamoto finished one spot higher in Olympic all-around qualifying than 2005 world champion Hiroyuki Tomita, but Tomita was given Sakamoto’s place in the all-around final.

Japan Figure Skating Nationals
1. Yuzuru Hanyu 297.80
2. Tatsuki Machida 277.04
3. Takahiko Kozuka 264.81
4. Nobunari Oda 258.47
5. Daisuke Takahashi 252.81

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