KADOMA, Osaka Prefecture--Once-retired Daisuke Takahashi drew the loudest applause at a gala exhibition here on Dec. 25, a day after he won silver in the men's competition of the Japan Figure Skating Championships.
It was his first appearance in five years at the event, and the crowd and organizers showed their appreciation for the return of the former world and national champion.
After the announcement, "Welcome back, Dai-chan," Takahashi, wearing a black outfit, performed a mellow dance to "Guilty Crown."
In response to the audience’s encore request, he picked up the pace with his showy steps to a "mambo" medley, reminding the crowd of the short program he performed in the 2010-2011 season. Those steps were once lauded as the world’s best in terms of technique.
Even a slight error during a final spin couldn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm for Takahashi’s performance.
Kaori Sakamoto, Rika Kihira and Satoko Miyahara, who won the gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the women’s competition, also performed at the gala exhibition.
The three medalists will compete at the World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama in March.
A smiling Sakamoto, in a red costume, danced to "Cabaret" and put on a clean performance, including landing a three-jump combination.
"I want to thrill people across Japan at the world championships," she said.
Kihira, who performed in a black-and-purple outfit to "Faded," nailed triple jumps and other moves.
"I am glad that I can skate at the world championships that will be held in Japan," she said.
Miyahara showed off her airy steps to the theme music of "Kurios" (Curious), a circus performance of Cirque du Soleil.
"I want to perform in my own style at the world championships," Miyahara said.
Keiji Tanaka, who won the bronze medal in the men’s competition, wiggly stepped to the theme music of "Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure," a popular anime. He closed with one of the protagonist’s signature poses, dubbed "Jojo dachi" (Jojo standing), which excited the audience.
"It will be my third appearance at the world championships," he said. "I want to put on a good performance."
A right leg injury kept Shoma Uno, who won his third consecutive gold medal in the men’s competition, from appearing at the gala exhibition.
In addition to Tanaka, Uno and two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will compete in the world championships.
Hanyu was absent from the Japan Figure Skating Championships due to right ankle injuries.