Takahito Mura 'breaks ice' to join Japanese elite

Japan's Takahito Mura hailed his first ever senior medal as proof that he has finally earned his place among the elite of Japanese figure skating.

Takahito Mura of Japan competes in men's free skating program during the Trophee Eric Bompard, fifth in the six-round ISU Grand Prix figure skating series, on November 17, at Bercy congress hall (POPB) in Paris. Mura hailed his first ever senior medal as proof that he has finally earned his place among the elite of Japanese figure skating.

The depth of talent in Japan has meant that the 21-year-old from Okayama has been overshadowed by his compatriots, finishing just fifth in the last two national championships.

But he warned on Saturday that those days are behind him as he struck gold at the Trophee Bompard, the fifth in the six-leg ISU Grand Prix figure skating series here.

Mura moved up from second after the short programme to take the title ahead of US champion Jeremy Abbott with France's Florent Amodio snatching bronze.

He opened his "Shogun" free skate with a quad toeloop jump, nailing seven triple jumps including a triple lutz-triple toeloop followed by a triple axel which he fought to hold.

Despite popping a triple flip and earning a one-point time deduction he scored 154.03 points for the free skate for 230.68 overall, to finish 3.05 points ahead of overnight leader Abbott.

"Because I didn't skate well at Skate Canada I won't be at the Grand Prix final but I wanted to prove I'm at a high level, a Grand Prix level," said Mura, who placed eighth in Canada.

Mura paid tribute to compatriots such as former world champion Daisuke Takahashi, along with other Grand Prix final medallists Nobunari Oda, Takahiko Kozuka and Yuzuru Hanyu for having lifted the level of skating in Japan.

"I can say that Japanese skaters doing well at the Grand Prix final gave me the motivation to do better," said the 2008 junior national champion.

"The fact that other Japanese skaters are doing really well makes me want to do really well. I think it gave me the possibility to get to the top," he continued.

"I used to be pretty settled and the judges were looking at me as a certain level of skater. Now they look at me as a Grand Prix winner and that gives me more of a chance.

"The biggest challenge is to keep consistency. If I don't get the quad that I can get the triple axel and how to keep the quality overall."

And he paid tribute to his father and coach Takashi, who was also a competitive figure skater, medalling at an international junior event in the 1970s.

"My father is always there for me and won't let me down. I feel I have a very good partnership and relationship with him," said Mura.

"If things aren't going well he can help me. If I was training with another coach things wouldn't be the same and we wouldn't be talking about skating all the time in the family."

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Writer: AFP
Position: News agency