Japan’s Loss is America’s Gain

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Daisuke Murakami

Daisuke Murakami was born in Kanagawa, Japan, but competes for the United States. “My family moved to California from Japan in 1999 because my mother wanted me to have a better education,” he said. He lives in Hacienda Heights, California and trains in Riverside.

Since reaching the national level, Murakami has skated well, placing fifth in intermediates in 2003, second in novice in 2004, and fourth in juniors in 2006. “My goal for the season was just to do well at Nationals,” he said. “But after I was tenth in the short, my goal was just to have fun and skate a good long.” He did just that and his entertaining free skate earned him a standing ovation in St. Louis.

The 15-year-old did well at his first major ISU championships, placing ninth in the free skate and 11th overall at the 2006 World Junior Figure Skating Championships. “It was a big surprise,” he said. “I just wanted to qualify and skate well. I learned that you have to do something to make yourself stand out from the bigger boys.” His previous international experience included a win in novice at the Triglav Trophy and 11th at the Junior Grand Prix in Harbin, China in 2004.

Murakami began skating when he was nine, after he had moved to the U.S. “I went skating because the mall near our house had an ice rink and it looked fun,” he recalled. “I had been doing gymnastics since I was six years old because I asked my mom to put me in it. I liked the floor exercise because the back flip was my favorite move. But I quit about a year after I started skating. I like competing and entertaining the audience and the judges.”

The gymnastics training was beneficial to his skating. Within three years, Murakami had landed his first triple jump, a triple salchow. Now he is including all of the triples, including the triple axel, in his junior programs. That includes a triple flip-triple loop in his short program and a triple flip-double toe-double loop and triple lutz-triple loop in the long.

“My favorite jump is the loop, but my weakness is the toe loop,” he said. “I’ve been working on a triple toe-triple toe and I hope to start working on a quad toe in the summer. I worked on the quad salchow last season and have landed some, but not clean. My goal for next season is to be more consistent and really go after the jumps.”

Murakami has trained with Tammy Gambill for the past three seasons. “Daisuke is a very hard worker,” Gambill said. “He’s so much fun to work with because he keeps us entertained at the rink.” Murakami works three hours a day, five days a week on ice plus two more hours on Saturday. He does about an hour of off ice gym work every day.

Felicia Beck choreographed both of Murakami’s new programs for the 2005-06 season, “Horobushka” by Bond for the short and “West Side Story” for the long. Gambill selected the music. “I wanted him to have something fun to do this year,” she said. “He had a rough season last year and I wanted to use something that would bring out his personality and make him smile.”

Wendy Burge also works with him on adjusting the choreography throughout the season. “She helps me to understand the music,” he said. “I like to skate to fun and energetic music that everyone will remember when they leave the rink.” For an exhibition program, Murakami used “Pump It”. “I heard it at the rink and thought it would be great for Daisuke because he’s so energetic,” Gambill said.

“I usually like to change both of his programs every year to keep things fresh,” Gambill said. “We’ll definitely change the long but I really like the short. We’ll only change it next season if I find something better.” Off ice, Murakami listens to anything except country music. He used to play the piano in Japan and the trumpet in his school’s band.

For fun, Murakami likes to hang out with friends, going to the mall, the movies, or Disneyland. He collects skating pins and hotel keys. He also likes to chat on the computer.

Murakami is currently in ninth grade in high school, where his favorite subject is math. Although he is undecided about a future career, right now he is considering coaching.

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