Daisuke Takahashi - What to gain from what you've lost. Questioning why going to the Olympic games?
Takahashi’s 3rd attempt to the Olympic games has began. His first competition in this 2013-2014 season, Skate America, he has ended only at the 4th place. Takahashi says “I don’t know why but I didn’t’ have strong will to win. Therefore, I didn’t even feeling DOWN after the competition was over”. What’s really happening to Takahashi?
■ Thirty minutes scold “must to have more fighting spririts”
In the evening when the Free Program was over, the team had a dinner and when Takahashi was ready to go sleep, Nikolai Morozov at 1 am said “let’s talk”. And the storm began out of him. He has scolded Takahashi very hard for nearly 30 minutes even with 4 letter languages. Takahashi says “I don’t’ even remember what I was said by him”.
In his free program, he didn’t fail difficult jumps such as quads, 3A, that badly. Yet, he failed his 3 loops into 1 loop and 3 salchow into 2 salhcow.
“You’ve go to have more fighting spirits! Loops and Salchows must have been a piece of cake for you. If you fail on loop, then, you must go for crazy and just land salchow!”
Nikolai had not been scolding for Takahashi like this for long long time, according to the person near him. Takahashi, then woke up, or realized.
“Why am I going to the Olympic games? I probably never thought about it. I think I wanted to go to the Olympic games but never even set a target as what I want to do in the Olympic games. I realize I must think, otherwise, I may fail”.
■ Motivation difficult to rise
In Vancouver Olympic games 3 years ago, he was on his recovery from his knee injury and he must have worked hard no matter what. He has put all his effort and finally won a Bronze Medal. He says “I felt a possibility to grow more” and has determined to continue as a competitive skater. Yet, soon after he was kind of burnt out, then placed only at the 5th at 2011 World Championship. He again awake on this bad result and determined to “aim for Olympic medals with 3-year planning”.
In 2012, he became 2nd at the World Championship and won gold at Grand Prix Final. Yet, his 2012-2013 seasons ended with 6th a the World Championship. Given the past lessons, his motivation should have risen after ending competitions with bad results but for some reason, he has not been boosted yet. “I don’t know why but also I don’t want to be just scolded by Nikolai either. I’m not saying that I have changed drastically but must admit that I have changed after speaking with him.”
■ Skate boots problem is part of his failure
One of the reasons he wasn’t really good at Skate America was the change in his skating boots manufacturer. In late September, he has changed his boots from Italian to Swiss one called “Graf” “Nikolai suggested why don’t you try? If not good, you can change back again. I wasn’t’ really willing to do so but after I changed, I feel very good. I can push ice more and I feel powerful”
His Japanese coach Utako Nagamitsu as well as Nikolai feels that his 3A gained back the length in the air. Utako says “the length, the hights, and quality of the jumps are really getting better. At one point I felt that he may experience hard times on jumps due to his age but his jumps are now back in his old days” Yet, he may need sometime to adjust himself to his new boots that has different height in heels and longer length in blades. He may fail on his take off when he jumps with the feeling that he’s with his old boots on. For this competition, he didn’t have enough time to adjust himself to the new boots and blades.
Yet, he thinks that the problem is small, as his health condition was fairly good. “honestly speaking, I don’t’ feel any fatigue here, more than that I feel like I am at the best condition as my weight control is also perfect”. No matter how he eats his weigh is around 60kg, approx. 132 lb, and his movements are quite sharp. In the past four years, he sometimes had conflicts with his coaches and team staffs, but now, they are all in good shapes”.
■ Didn’t want to realize that I was tired
So, what was the problem? Takahashi says “I didn’t even realize if I really wanted to go to the Olympic games. But I was telling myself that I want to go to the games, even without thinking about it. I probably didn’t want to realize that I was tired, as I was talking to myself that I am not tired”
He seemed to have much stress by September as he went out often with his friends, though in the past, especially in last two years he wasn't really feeling to go out during competition season. “I was probably cheating myself as I didn't wanted to realize that I was feeling tired”.
It is for certain that top athletes aimed for the top competition, i.e. Olympic games. That’s the common sense of the world and Takahashi himself thought so too; but his focus was slightly off. Now, having a clear target here, he can see the way to proceed and he can continue hard lessons.
■ Now He is All Set
“I was probably feeling tired in skating as well as losing fighting sprits though one may blame me” says Takahsahi, but he continued “Therefore, the result this time at Skate America was good for me as I get ignified”.
He now feels his target is clearly set after having a long conversation with Nikolai and Utako Nagamitsu.
Another thing different from four years ago is emerge of strong Japanese male skaters. Four years ago, Japanese males were fighting for the same 3 spots for the Olympic games but even on his recovery from his injury, the top 3 Japanese including him at that time was far better than the rest.
■ What if chasers are climbing higher
This time, on top of Vancouver Olympican Takahiko Kozuka and Nobunari Oda, we have Tatsuki Machida who won Skate America, Yuzuru Hanyu who won the last years’ national, and Takahito Mura are all lined up. The level of the battle is even tougher than the one in ladies.
Takahashi used to sigh over saying “Only ladies competitions draw attentions in Japan”. And 3 years ago he admitted he likes to see young skaters climbing higher and chase him. In this year, “Yes, it is certainly good for the skating world that new and young skaters climbing higher. But in reality it is very tough. I like to see the fact that Mens single skating now have much attention compared to the past but not sure if I can hold on to it in such situation”. Although he is such a good skater, sometimes he lacks in confidence and says something backward; yet his strength is to accept the situation, motivate oneself and going forward.
Takahashi is being such “sensitive human beings” with a very sharp sensitivity and intuition. Once he possess strong motivation, he probably became the one who can most outperform than anyone else amongst Japanese skaters. Now that he found what was lacking and that’s what he have gained in Skate America.
■ How to respond to his coach’s expectation
Takahashi says “in fact, Nikolai has suggested that I withdraw from Skate America as competitors cannot do their best at each single competitions.” Yet, “I wanted to appear in the competition as I am used to to compete in consecutive competitions but I am not used to withdraw from consecutive competitions.”.
As a result, he dared to compete and was receiving a big whip from Nikolai. “NiKolai now focus a lot on Daisuke. He should appreciate it”, says Utako Nagamitsu. How does Daisuke to respond to Nikolai’s lessons is the question here and “Team Daisuke”, including Ms. Nagamitsu, is now waiting quietly for his answer.