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Takahashi's record highlights Day 3

Virtue and Moir also among Day 3 winners

Takahashi on his medal-winning run.
Takahashi on his medal-winning run. (Getty Images)

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By Tatiana Flade, special to icenetwork.com
(02/15/2008) - Japan's Daisuke Takahashi crushed the competition on Friday in Goyang City, Korea, on his way to his first gold medal at the Four Continents Championships. Canadian Jeffrey Buttle and U.S. champion Evan Lysacek trailed Takahashi by 30 points to finish second and third, respectively.

Takahashi scored 175.84 points for his stunning free skate and 264.41 points overall, both of which are new world records, beating Evgeni Plushenko's record scores from the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. The Russian Plushenko achieved 167.67 in the free and 258.33 overall when he won the Olympic gold.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice dance title ahead of U.S. couples Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who took the silver medal, and Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre, who earned the bronze.

Takahashi set the rink in Goyang City ablaze with his powerful "Romeo and Juliet" routine. Skating last, he hit two quad toes, two triple Axels and four more clean triples; only the triple loop was wobbly. His spins and footwork were strong, all earning Level 3 and Level 4 ratings.

"I'm so happy to have achieved my best result. During my performance, I was calm, everything was smooth -- the jumps, the spins, the steps -- and I was careful, focused on each detail," Takahashi said. "I landed two quads for the first time in an ISU competition, and this is a big improvement for me. I got a great score, and it gives me confidence for worlds."

Buttle and Lysacek went head-to-head, and the Canadian narrowly beat the U.S. champion, 234.02 to 233.11. Both had their ups and downs. Buttle landed five clean triples but missed a triple Lutz. Lysacek produced six triples but crashed on the quad toe.

"I'm pleased with the result today. I wasn't overly pleased with how I skated, but I think it was a small improvement over nationals. As I said earlier this season, this is really the direction that I want to have. As long as things are getting better, I'm happy with that," Buttle said.

Lysacek was disappointed. "It was pretty bad. I think I've been training really well, but this was much below what I've been doing in training. So, I was pretty disappointed in that, but at least I know it can't get very much worse than that going into worlds," he commented.

Stephen Carriere and Jeremy Abbott finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Carriere popped a triple Axel but nailed the jump in the second attempt, as well as six other triples.

"It's bittersweet. I haven't popped in a program in forever, so doing that single Axel at the beginning of the program was kind of weird. But I re-centered myself, and I was thinking, 'You've gotta get more points now.' After that single Axel I thought, 'You know what, I've gotta start racking up those points again.' It was an amazing skate," Carriere said.

Abbott hit his first clean quad toe in competition and was overwhelmed by that fact. He pulled up from ninth after a disappointing short program.

Abbott described the experience as "incredible." He continued, "It's probably the last time I'm going to do that program, and to end it the way it did, I'm just very pleased. I felt that I really stayed in the program the whole time. I mean, I had mistakes, but I really felt that it couldn't have gone any better. I did exactly what I came here to do, and I'm proud of what I did."

Virtue and Moir danced to gold with a strong performance to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Their difficult footwork and lifts looked effortless and smooth. The young Canadians were awarded a Level 4 for all elements, except for the last serpentine lift. They scored 207.32 points overall, a new personal best and the top ice dancing score of the season so far.

"Today's performance was very exciting for us. The Korean fans were amazing, really into the performance, which was rewarding for us. For us, it was our season's best [in the] three skates that we've had. We really wanted to come and show the emotional connection, and I hope that made it to the judges, and that's where the points are coming from. But other than that, I don't think it really means that much," Moir said, referring to their score.

Davis and White gave an inspiring performance of their "Eleanor's Dream" program. They earned a Level 4 for all elements, the only couple to do so. The U.S. silver medalists scored a new personal best of 199.45 overall.

Davis was already looking forward to the next competition, the world championships.

"We're just going to go out and train as hard as we can. We're going to make a couple of tweaks here and there to make ourselves comfortable with everything going to Worlds," Davis said.

With 180.65 points, Navarro and Bommentre took the bronze, their first medal at a major international event. In the process, they recorded personal bests in all three dances and their overall score.

"It was a great skate," Bommentre said. "I think that was the best performance we've had this season. I think we're both really, really happy with it. In terms of worlds and this being a tune-up for worlds, I feel like that was the performance we've been working for. We've just got to fine-tune that, and we're going to be in a great position for Sweden."

Jennifer Wester and Daniil Barantsev came in fourth in what was only their second international competition as a team. They scored 174.37 points.