Daisuke Takahashi, the first Japanese man to win an Olympic figure skating medal and world championship, just missed making it back to the Olympics in ice dance.
Takahashi and partner Kana Muramoto finished second in the Japanese Championships on Saturday, 1.86 points behind Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto. Japan has one Olympic ice dance spot, and selectors went with the national champs over Muramoto and Takahashi, who had better recent international results.
The Olympic team was announced Sunday.
Japanese Olympic selection criteria includes both nationals results and recent international performances, similar to how the U.S. picks its Olympic figure skating team.
Takahashi, 35, was trying to become the first figure skater to compete in the Olympics in their career in both singles and ice dance as medal events, according to Olympedia.org. Instead, he and Muramoto were named as Japan’s ice dance couple for the world championships in France after the Olympics.
Eleven years ago, Takahashi bagged a breakthrough singles bronze at the Vancouver Winter Games. He won the world title a month later. He retired after placing sixth in his third Olympics in 2014.
Then in 2018, Takahashi announced a return to singles skating, for domestic competitions only. He placed second and 12th at the Japanese Championships in December 2018 and December 2019 and stunned the world by switching to ice dance starting in 2020.
“I didn’t think about the Olympics, actually,” Takahashi said earlier this month from their training base in Florida, where they’re coached by the legendary Russian Marina Zoueva, who nicknamed him “Zeus.” “I just wanted to know more [about] figure skating, ice skating techniques. After I quit as a competitor, I still wanted to skate and perform.”
He partnered with Muramoto, a singles skater through her teens who became a 2018 Olympian in dance with Chris Reed. Reed retired in 2019. In March 2020, Reed died of a sudden cardiac issue at age 30.
Muramoto and Takahashi competed together for the first time in November 2020. In November 2021, they posted the highest score ever for a Japanese ice dance couple and became favorites to grab the Olympic spot.
But in their nationals rhythm dance on Thursday, both fell (at the same time, a two-point deduction), and they trailed by 4.81 points. They had the best free dance, but not enough to overcome the deficit. That left the Olympic decision in the hands of the selectors.
Neither Muramoto and Takahashi nor Komatsubara and Koleto have been considered Olympic medal contenders in the ice dance event. But Japan has shot at a medal in the Olympic team event, encompassing all disciplines, for two reasons: Canada’s decline since winning in 2018 — their top skaters in every discipline are gone. And the rise of pairs’ skaters Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, giving Japan strength in the three disciplines other than dance.
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