Daisuke Takahashi

Daisuke Takahashi makes Japan’s Olympic team; Mao Asada stunned

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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.

Photos: Meet Japan’s Olympic team

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.

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Yuna Kim wins season debut in Croatia

Yuna Kim
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Olympic and world champion Yuna Kim fell on her opening jump but still posted a total score beaten by only one other skater during the Grand Prix season at a minor event in Zagreb, Croatia, on Saturday.

The South Korean won the Golden Spin with 204.49 points, her first competition this season following a foot injury.

Japan’s Mao Asada totaled 204.02 points after the Grand Prix Final free skate earlier Saturday. Asada is Kim’s main rival for Sochi Olympic gold. Asada has scored 207.59 and 204.55 points this season.

Kim fell on her opening triple Lutz in Zagreb and skated clean the rest of the way to “Adios Nonino” in a black dress with sequins. Here’s video of her free skate.

Two-time world champion Miki Ando also skated in Zagreb and scored 176.82 points.

A right foot injury had forced Kim to withdraw from two Grand Prix assignments earlier this fall. It was announced in late September that Kim, 23, would miss around six weeks.

She’s attempting to become the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic figure skating titles since Katarina Witt in 1984 and 1988.

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World champion figure skater Miki Ando to skate competitively for first time in 2 years

Miki Ando
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The last woman to beat Yuna Kim at a major international competition is making good on comeback plans after having a baby girl.

Japan’s Miki Ando, who beat Kim at the 2011 World Championships, was added to the field for next week’s Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, on Tuesday.

Ando, 25, has not competed since winning that 2011 world title, according to icenetwork.com. She made front-page news in Japan in July when she revealed on a TV show that she had a baby girl, Himawari, in April, hinting that she considered an abortion. Ando also won the 2007 world title and placed fifth at the 2010 Olympics.

She’s trying to make her third Olympic team for Japan, which earned three spots in Sochi. One of those spots will surely go to reigning world and Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada.

Other favorites include 2010 world junior champion Kamako Murakami and 2012 world bronze medalist Akiko Suzuki. Ando will likely have to finish in the top three at the Japanese championships in December to make the Olympic team.

Three-time European bronze medalist Kiira Korpi withdrew from Nebelhorn Trophy after suffering a partially torn Achilles, she said on Facebook.

Joannie Rochette won’t compete in Sochi