Tuesday, December 18

Takahashi and Tran Split: My Take

Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran have officially split up. They were the first pairs team from Japan to win a World Championship medal, having done so at the 2012 event.

The team suffered a set-back at the very end of last season when Takahashi dislocated her shoulder in practice. After it kept recurring, they decided to withdraw from their Grand Prix events earlier this year and Narumi had surgery which would likely keep her out the rest of the 2013 season.

While the only reasonings for the split I have seen so far include Narumi saying, "We've been having different thoughts towards the sport recently," and the Japanese Federation saying that there is more to it than just competing in Sochi, I have to think that is the center of the problem. Here's why:

The team competition is officially part of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. In order for a country to be able to qualify, there needs to be at least one skater or team in each discipline. Japan is bound to finish near the top in the singles competitions, and they have a dance team in Cathy and Chris Reed. Tran, from the beginning of the partnership, has been questionable on whether he would even get citizenship to Japan in the first place (as he was born in Canada). If he did, there was then a question if he would be able to receive it in time for the Olympics.

So you have a situation where a country is looking at a team medal-- perhaps even gold. But without a pair, they cannot even enter the competition. There is no other Japanese pair team that has competed internationally in a long while. I am thinking this partnership may have ended so that Takahashi, as soon as she recovers, can find a new partner (if there is not one already) and then work towards the Olympics. They would have to qualify for the individual event at an early-season competition next fall, which gives four additional pairs the right to compete in Sochi.