Takahiko Kozuka explains the merits of Kozuka Blades at a news conference in Nagoya on April 24. (Naomi Asano)

NAGOYA--Skater Takahiko Kozuka, who represented Japan in men's figure skating at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, is setting up the next generation for competition success with a set of blades he developed with a Japanese steel-work company.

“I hope these blades will be widely used by everyone from competitive figure skaters to casual skaters,” said Kozuka as he unveiled the Kozuka Blades alongside partner Yamaichi Special Steel Co. at a news conference here on April 24.

“I would love to see competitive skaters stepping up on the podiums using these blades.”

In recent years, quadruple jumps have become more and more common in men’s competitive figure skating. However, blades on most ice skates cannot withstand the force of impact of landing over a prolonged period of time, and skaters often have to replace blades that snap or bend after two weeks to a month or so.

Kozuka, who retired from competitive skating in 2016, also had trouble with blades when he was active in the sport.

The project to develop the new blades started when Kozuka suggested the idea to Yamaichi Special Steel President Motoharu Teranishi in 2012.

Kozuka visited the Nagoya-based company to use a high-precision measuring device it owns to measure his feet to make new shoes.

Shown around the production plants, Kozuka asked if the company would be capable of making blades for figure skating.

Today, Japanese skaters generally use blades made outside Japan, and it meant starting from scratch for both Kozuka and the company.

Kozuka used prototypes of Kozuka Blades during practice and at competitions to monitor them, and the company reworked the designs numerous times, reflecting Kozuka’s input.

The common blades Kozuka had previously used were made of three parts welded together. Kozuka said welded joints can sometimes break from the force of impact on the ice.

Yamaichi Special Steel instead employed a method to chisel out the blade and toe and heel plates together entirely from one piece of alloy block. The metal is a more pliable kind than those used in common blades, making them more resistant to breakage.

“As even the slightest anxiety can affect skating performance greatly at competitions, our blades can give peace of mind,” said Kozuka.

Masanori Fujii, head of the company’s technology development center, said, “I want these blades to become indispensable gear in the figure skating world.”

Kozuka said, “It would be great if we can continue to improve the technology used for the blades so we don’t fall behind the advancement of skating techniques. We are at the starting line. We aim to produce blades that cater to skaters’ needs.”