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Great Skaters: Mao Asada
Mao Asada in 2014
Mao Asada: a genius skater who rivaled Yuna Kim
A lovely baby faced skater knows how to skate. Her name is Mao Asada.
Asada was a heroine in an almost fantasy story. A tragic heroine. In the clip above, you are watching an extraordinary skater of our time.
Asada could have reigned like no other; her personal misfortune is that she was born in a time when she was fatefully destined to compete the great Yuna Kim.
I do not think that's really a bad thing for Asada, however.
Rivalry benefits skaters.
Only Asada took the wrong direction and was poorly staffed when she needed it the most.
Obviously in the clip above, Asada, as a typical lyrical skater, has such maturity and flow. Her moves on ice make lovely connections with her lines and extensions.
That's how a skater should skate. Her triple axel may lack of speed, height and power compared to Midori Ito's , but Asada's triple axel above is actually much better and desirable one in the ladies figure skating.
If Asada's triple axels in the 2010 Olympics were, strictly speaking, disqualified for GOE, I am willing to give +2 to her triple axel here.
That's an easy, beautiful and lovely execution.
Asada's true misfortune was her choice of coach. Tarasova, Asada's former coach, was a disaster for Asada's career.
Asada hasn't retired. Although Asada's age way passed her zenith as a figure skater, Asada in the clip above shows that she may continue to rule the post Kim ladies figure skating - of course only if the ISU severs the tie with Russian fraud, and only if the judging system is restored normal.
Mao Asada in 2008
Asada: her skating is full of dramas.
Asada made a dramatic comeback in this competition. She fell on her first jump and was thrown all the way to the board, then she rose and skated solidly to the end.
What a way to skate!
I know the result in 2008 Worlds is controversial for some; and I admit that the result may be less than perfect but I do not call it a fraud or I find it seriously impaired.
A fall may leave a huge optical damage in the minds of spectators, but the points for Asada to lose are limited. The COP is an compartmentalized system.
And Asada skated very well except that fall.
Of course, I admit that Yuna Kim in 2008 didn't receive the credit she deserves, and Kostner got awarded a bit overly, and that remains factual.
However, those undesirable misalignment didn't come from premeditated or calculated design in the judging panel, as far as I understand.
Normally judges are suspicious of a new talent, and therefore, they are psychologically defensive to the rising talent. That's a mechanism in which they are careful not to award random success as opposed to the one from polished and trained execution, etc.
Mao Asada in 2005: Asada at the top of the world
Many see her as the rival of Yuna Kim, but Mao Asada in her own right is one of the most accomplished skaters in the world. But like Michelle Kwan, Asada had no luck with Olympics.
Asada is an Olympic silver medalist, a three time World champion, a three time Four Continents champion, a four time Grand Prix Final champion and a six time Japanese national champion.
Currently Asada holds the world record for the ladies short program.
When Asada won the Grand Prix Final at 15, she was at the top of the world. Unlike many junior skaters today, Asada's skating at 15 was already senior level, and many saw her as the best skater in the world.
Asada was indeed of the same caliber as Yuna Kim, and a rare skating prodigy. But as her nemesis Yuna Kim rapidly evolved under the tutorage of Brian Orser, Asada underwent a series of regression in her skating, struggling to catch up with Kim.
While obsessively attached to triple axel, Asada sacrificed a critical balance to her skating. It can't be more obvious in comparison with Kim's skating that focused on the overall balance and quality, as Asada single-mindedly invested in triple axel and its competitive merits.
Asada and Kim took different paths since they had competed each other in junior circle. As a result, Asada, once considered as expressive and light-spirited, was left much room in her skating compared to Kim who comprehensively and broadly mastered many aspects of skating including jump, spin and artistic expression.