Call it the Asian invasion. When it comes to winning figure-skating championships, you can't go wrong if you hail from the Far East these days. The current women's Olympic gold medalist comes from Japan, the top two pairs teams in the world call China home, and a Korean teen claimed first place in the Grand Prix final this season. Hometown fans at the World Championships in Tokyo this month will have plenty of native sons and daughters to cheer on.
It's a changing of the ice guard, of sorts. The Eastern European skaters who have traditionally crowded the podiums are now standing behind the barriers, passing on their winning ways as coaches. Nikolai Morozov, a former ice dancer for Belarus who trained the reigning ladies' Olympic champ and now works with Japan's Daisuke Takahashi, says, "It's great to work with Japanese skaters. They remind me of a cat. They always land on their feet." And, it seems, on the winner's podium.
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