Friday, December 28, 2007

Japanese Nationals

Funny how this particular national event gets so much world wide attention from the skating public because Japan is just so darn good! Japan's best took to the ice in fierce competition to decide who exactly was their best and an attempt to shape their international team for this springs events.

It was a runaway in Ice Dance! The brother sister team of Chris and Cathy Reed won the event in a landslide! The duo (which has dual Japanese/U.S. citizenship) earned 166.41 points to place first in the field! Although they had no competition, they can at least say they are National Champions...a feat they probably would have never achieved in the U.S.

No big surprise among the men. Daisuke Takahashi ran away with it. I mean, he won by 35 points! He could have closed his eyes on the ice, stood there for 4 1/2 minutes and still won. Shame his chief rival wasn't able to compete...apparently Nobunari is having some mental stress (I'm not going to let this one go!) issues these days. 2006 Junior World Champ Takahiko Kozuka earned the silver medal while Yasuharu Nanri earned a new Personal Best score and claimed the bronze.

In the ladies field two battles developed: the battle for gold and the battle for bronze. The bronze medal battle was between Yukari Nakano (who has made the triple axel look easy this year!) and veteran Fumie Suguri. Suguri held the edge after the short program sitting in third place but a poor free skate (judged 6th) left her behind Nakano who won the bronze medal. Questions about Suguri's future will surely arise after a poor showing at the event. In the gold medal match-up Mao Asada lead Miki Ando after the short. Both turned in tremendous free skates with Ando winning the night. However, Asada was able to hang onto her lead from the short and win the gold by just a bit over one point! Asada wins her second consecutive title and Ando erases the bad memories (and bad press) from NHK Trophy.

The other story here is the event itself. Sellout! Japan has gone figure skating crazy (thank you Shizuka Arakawa) and they packed the house! And the media coverage of this event was unprecedented! What money the ISU loses from the U.S. media market they'll more than make up for in Japan.

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