Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi: “I love the music of ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ so I had always wanted to skate to it again someday.”
Article and small interview with Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi ahead of World Championships.
source: jbpress.ismedia.jp dd. 15 March 2023 by Takaomi Matsubara
! Please take into account that interview was translated via machine translation so it may not be completely accurate or conveying all the details and nuances. !
First victory at the Japanese Nationals
For the two of them, the 2023 World Championships are their second appearance on the global stage following last year. However, the atmosphere surrounding the event is different. Ice dancers Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi have made certain progress in the past year and are now approaching the competition.
For fans of figure skating, the challenge of these two individuals who need no introduction began in the 2020-2021 season. Their debut competition was at the NHK Trophy. While Kana had already been an ice dancer, Takahashi was a skater who had excelled in singles. Although they were on the same ice, ice dance has different equipment, rules, and above all, it requires two people, making it significantly different.
The two of them appeared with both anxiety and anticipation as to how well they had blended into the world of ice dance. They showed performances that exceeded expectations and showed that their worries were unfounded.
That was the beginning. In the 2021-2022 season, they showed surprising progress. They scored over 20 points higher than the previous year at NHK Trophy, and at the following Warsaw Cup, they set the highest ever score for Japanese ice dance in the free dance and total score. Although they did not qualify for the Beijing Olympics, they competed in the Four Continents Championships and World Championships, showing performances that were hard to believe were only their second season together.
This season, they have shown even more confident performances, competing in events like the Grand Prix series and winning their first ever title at the Japanese Nationals.
Not only have their results improved, but their post-competition discussions have also become more focused on technical challenges and areas for improvement. After spending three seasons together, they have shed their initial hesitations and now communicate openly with each other while respecting each other’s opinions.
They see themselves as ice dancers who compete on the world stage.
It was at the NHK Trophy where they showed that self-awareness. Skating in the second group, Muramoto and Takahashi were in the five-minute warm-up before their performance. Each pair in the competition showed their speedy skating that could be said to be different from the first group, and focus on checking their trajectory. And without showing any signs of yielding to the other pairs, they often skated close to them. The competition for those aiming for the top was already present in their practice.
The two of them each said:
“From the moment we step onto the ice, our focus is solely on ourselves. We can feel the energy and atmosphere of the top teams, and we also have that energy.” (Muramoto)
“Last season, I was so scared that I would try to avoid everyone, but this season, I’m not afraid anymore. If it’s really dangerous, I’ll avoid it, but I won’t avoid it until the last minute.” (Takahashi)
These words were possible because of their self-awareness and confidence.
In February, they competed in the Four Continents Championships, which was held at an altitude of 1800 meters where thin oxygen levels may prove difficult. However, they managed to finish the competition safely and now look forward to the World Championships.
For Takahashi, this is a memorable event. Together with his singles era, it will be his 10th appearance. Compared to other sports, figure skating careers tend to be short-lived, making Takahashi’s long and exceptional career all the more impressive. In fact, his first appearance in the Four Continents Championships was 20 years ago.
Moreover, considering they have become a representative skater for Japan in different disciplines, the value of their 10th appearance is significant.
Their free dance for this season is “The Phantom of the Opera,” a song chosen by their coach, Marina Zueva. Interestingly, Takahashi used this music for his free program in the 2006-2007 season, during which he won a silver medal at the World Championships held in Tokyo and made his first appearance on the podium.
At the NHK Trophy, Takahashi talked about his feelings of skating to this music after 16 years. “It’s been ten years for me and (in the past) I was skating alone. This time, I’m skating with someone else, so it’s not really related and it’s a different thing.”
He then continued, “I love the music of ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ so I had always wanted to skate to it again someday.”
Muramoto also said, “I like ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ program from my single days,” expressing her love for the program.
16 years later, the two of them will perform a program that has special meaning to them, this time together.
Heading into the competition, after the Four Continents Championships, Muramoto said, “Before arriving at the venue for this competition, we had really good practices and were prepared to compete. From here on out, for the next month and a half, we will continue to skate just as we have been, not only here but overall.”
The pair, who always seem to have room for improvement, will take to the big stage for the second time for them, and the tenth time for Takahashi.
Alexei Urmanov: “I don’t give a damn about Russian figure skaters, I’m here at the World Championships. Of course I will watch it.”