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Rink Notes: Kozuka taking things slow

Dornbush, Razzano take different approaches to quad

Japanese champion Takahiko Kozuka wants to pace himself this season.
Japanese champion Takahiko Kozuka wants to pace himself this season. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(10/20/2011) - After winning the world silver medal with a clutch performance in Moscow last spring, Takahiko Kozuka figures he's entitled to take the beginning of this season a bit slowly.

The Japanese champion focused on getting his legs under him in the first practice here at Ontario's Citizen's Business Bank Arena, showing off refined choreography and flowing steps in his free skate run-through but missing most of his jumps.

"I had some problems with the [triple] Axel, lots of pops," Kozuka said. "I popped the flip, loop, Salchow. I hope to recover.

"I did try the quad [toe] but I popped each one I tried."

He said it all with a big smile. After all, one subpar practice is no big deal.

"I don't worry, I've had a lot of good practices at home," he said. "I have some confidence."

The 22-year-old, who mostly trains in Yokohoma under Nobuo Sato, attributed his pops to a deep-tissue massage he had yesterday.

"My muscles feel too loose," he said through a translator, laughing. "I don't think I could control them so well. We will see what happens tomorrow."

Kozuka's assurance was likely gained from the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships. Sitting sixth after the short, he came up big in the free skate, hitting a quad toe in international competition for the first time. His silver medal was a sliver of hope for his nation, which had been scheduled to host worlds in March before being ravaged by earthquake and tsunami.

Despite his troubles in practice, Kozuka plans to do quads in both of his programs here, which include a free skate choreographed by Marina Zoueva and Fedor Andreev to Joe Hisaichi's anime film score. His short, to jazz saxophonist John Henderson's "Inner Urge," was created by David Wilson.

"Trying to win Skate America is not my main focus," Kozuka said. "[My focus] is to perform my programs.

"Starting [the season] a little slow is OK, I think. We moved the world championships a month later [from March to late April], so I had [less] time to prepare my programs. Everybody had less time."

Dornbush, Razzano take different routes
Like Kozuka, U.S. silver medalist Richard Dornbush didn't show his best jumps in practice.

"He was a little overanxious," Tammy Gambill, Dornbush's longtime coach, said. "He wants this so bad. He's trying so hard. He just has to calm down and not rush things."

Neither Gambill nor her pupil -- who trains just 20 minutes away in Riverside -- seemed too concerned.

"He has a good head on his shoulders, and he's in a good place right now," Gambill said. "He will get it done."

After hitting a quad toe for the first time in competition this summer, Dornbush hopes to get more mileage on the jump here.

"I definitely want to have the opportunity to do the quad in my long," he said. "It certainly is necessary."

When Olympic champion Evan Lysacek withdrew from the event, Doug Razzano, who finished 10th at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, got the call.

"It's been a whirlwind week and a half," he said. "It's exciting. I felt a little shaky out there in practice, but it's like that [during] the first practice every place I go."

Although Razzano landed a few quad toes today, at the request of his coach, Doug Ladret, he will likely not try the jump in either of his programs.

"Nationals will be so tough for the men, and we want to use this opportunity to show I can skate clean," he said. "I want to build some momentum by doing well here. My goal this season is to be top five at nationals."